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Of C. partner with Argonne National Laboratory in new data center

SAIC, U.

  • From left: Charlie Catlett, Brett Goldstein, Douglas Pancoast.
From left: Charlie Catlett, Brett Goldstein, Douglas Pancoast. (Robert Kozloff/University…)
December 19, 2012|By Erin Vogel @eringejuice | RedEye

With help from a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago will work together with the Argonne National Laboratory to use city data to develop projects impacting Chicago's policy, design and urban planning decisions under a partnership announced last week.

The collaboration, called the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD), brings together researchers and city officials to take advantage of the City of Chicago Data Portal, an initiative dedicated to opening government data to the public.

This data can be used to develop programs and applications like Chicago ClearStreets, which uses city data tracking snow plows in real time to identify city streets that have been cleared. UrbanCCD director Charlie Catlett said the center will use similar methodologies to inform citizens of things happening in the city, such as levels of air pollution or neighborhood crime.

Catlett, who served as chief technology officer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications before he started working at Argonne in 2000, said he is excited use data in a way that benefits people directly.

"To be able to use these tools to impact the health of kids on the South Side or the employment opportunities of people on the West Side--it feels much more real and tangible to me as a person," Catlett said.

Douglas Pancoast, associate professor of architecture at SAIC, said he is also looking forward to solving community problems through the "constant collaboration" that will come out of the center, like improving road conditions for cyclists or developing initiatives to further the Chicago's reputation as a sustainable city.

"Chicago has a history of really understanding itself as a city," Pancoast said. "There's an attitude about urban living that is very purposeful. The [center] is an extension of that."

Pancoast said that although SAIC may be an art school and not a research institution, its students and faculty love using data in art and design projects. Part of the new initiative also involves SAIC faculty applying their research perspectives to develop new curricula for students.

"Students tend to be a few months ahead of faculty when it comes to interesting information and ideas," Pancoast said. "I think once they start seeing more formal connections between data and their classes, they're going to be really excited."

Find out more about the Urban Center for Computation and Data at its website: http://www.ci.uchicago.edu/urbanccd/2012_12-001.php

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