In May, dozens of researchers, IT experts, librarians, and entrepreneurs gathered at the University of Chicago for a two-day discussion about the future of research information technology -- new tools to push forward the practice and field of science. Co-presented by the Computation Institute and Digital Science, the Information, Interaction, and Influence meeting featured panels on science start-ups, the experience of postdoctoral researchers, smarter profile/networking platforms, computational research, and much more.
With its svelte oval shape, customizable acrylic shell, and interactive LED lighting, the Looplamp looks like a product you would find in a high-end furniture catalog. But this summer, the shoebox-sized “smart” devices are helping Chicago high school students get hands-on experience with digital fabrication, programming, and -- most importantly -- how they can interact with data to learn more about their community and improve it in surprising and innovative ways.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a world leader in collecting, storing, and working with data on meteorology, geosciences, and climate science. Because of the large amounts of data produced by field observations and complex computer models of the Earth's atmosphere, NCAR has also historically been a major force in high-performance computing, establishing what is now called the Computational and Information Systems Lab in 1964.
As the Data Science for Social Good fellowship begins its third and final month, it is beginning to attract the attention of local media. In mid-July, WBEZ reporter Chris Hagan stopped by DSSG headquarters at State and Jackson and spoke with fellows and mentors working on projects with Chicago Public Schools, Enroll America, the City of Memphis, and more.
One of the most valuable weapons we have against climate change is data. The growing seas of information generated by scientific study, ground and satellite observations, and computer models can not only help inform the public about the existence of climate change, but drive efforts to prepare for and mitigate its severe consequences.
Despite growing awareness and acceptance of climate change around the world, it remains hard for much of the public to grasp the impact of these changes beyond warmer temperatures. Should carbon emissions continue at their current levels, the Earth's new climate will have consequences for agriculture and food supply, economics, flooding, drought, and even where people live. To help warn the public about these serious concerns, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office released a graphic this week, the Human Dynamics of Climate Change map, which draws in part upon research at the CI's Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy.
Last month, the Obama Administration and the EPA released a new plan to reduce carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in the hopes of ameliorating the effects of climate change. But the plan's call for increased use of natural gas stirred controversy in some environmental circles, given concerns about the consequences of fracking and the release of methane gas into the atmosphere from burning natural gas.
As of today, the Data Science for Social Good fellowship is one-third of the way done. In their downtown Chicago headquarters, 48 fellows from around the world are hard at work with project partners from the non-profit and government sectors, helping them solve problems and get the most value out of their data. On the Data Science for Social Good website, the first round of projects have been announced with a small blurb describing the summer goals of each team. Topics this year range from education to energy efficiency, worldwide corruption to natural conservation, reducing lead exposure to reducing homelessness, and enrolling those without health insurance to connecting patients with services outside of the health care system. Here are three samples of the Data Science for Social Good projects, visit their projects page or the DSSG blog to read about the rest.
When people talk about the most serious effects of climate change, they typically mention hotter temperatures, severe storms, rising sea levels, economic instability, and food security. Typically, the latter threat is measured in terms of the amount of calories produced by world agriculture, to quantify projected changes in maize, soy, wheat, and rice production under new climate conditions. But in a new editorial for Nature Climate Change, CI fellow Joshua Elliott and two co-authors explain how new research on changes in nutritional value of food grown in high-CO2 conditions suggests that calories alone may insufficiently describe the food security threat.
The open release of city data has given residents exciting new ways of interacting with and benefiting from the information collected by city agencies. But what if there was a way to collect even broader, higher-resolution data on the daily life of the city, providing a massive stream of open data for research and the development of new applications to improve urban life? The Array of Things is a project of the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) to deploy interactive, modular sensor boxes around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and motion for research and public use. While the first nodes won't be installed along Michigan Avenue until later this summer, the media has seized upon the idea as an exciting new way of "instrumenting" a city for the greater good.