The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) met on July 18, 2013 in a joint session with the Council for Science and Technology (CST) from the United Kingdom. This was the first time the two similar bodies met together. The first agenda item was Big Data: Smart Cities. The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) has been involved in Big Data for quite some time, having convened a Big Data Study Group in 2008. The conversation began with Steven Koonin discussing The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) at New York University (NYU). CUSP is a public-private research center that uses New York City as both its laboratory and classroom. CUSP is leading the emerging field of “Urban Informatics.” Koonin spoke about the rationale for this new field and provided suggestions for a national program:
- The encouragement of data sharing across government functions and with the private sector;
- Data standards need to be defined;
- Privacy research and regulation must be furthered;
- Cross disciplinary training in undergraduate and graduate programs must occur;
- Partnerships must be formed;
- Urban Informatics Research needs to have a “home.”
Next up, Sir Alan Wilson spoke about the Future of Cities Project and Science of Cities and Regions in the United Kingdom. For the Future of Cities Project, Sir Wilson will be looking at the system of United Kingdom cities and some demonstrator cities to answer some Big Questions, such as: What makes a successful city? His work aims to build theories to help all cities in the future.
After the presentations, the members of PCAST and CST asked several questions of the presenters. The webcast of the meeting can be viewed here.