At the Forefront of Urban Informatics, Constantine Kontokosta Is Widely Recognized for His Pioneering Work

Constantine Kontokosta

Assistant Professor Constantine Kontokosta, who also serves as the Deputy Director for Academics at the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), is an expert in the field of Urban Informatics—which focuses on gathering, visualizing, and analyzing data on factors such as traffic volume, noise levels, energy use, and mobility in order to help make cities more efficient, livable, and sustainable. At CUSP and Tandon, he heads the Quantified Community Research Lab—a groundbreaking project that is making Hudson Yards, the 28-acre, 20-million square foot “city-within-a-city” on the west side of Manhattan, the nation’s first fully instrumented and quantified neighborhood lab; he’s since expanded the Quantified Community initiative with projects in Lower Manhattan and the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.

Data in those neighborhoods will be generated by smart building systems, deployed sensors, social media, and various City records, while some will be supplied through “crowd-sourcing” from citizen scientists who volunteer data that might be generated by smartphones or wearable technology. It’s an exciting collaborative effort that’s poised to change the face of urban development and planning, shifting the focus of Smart Cities to recognize the importance of neighborhoods, and Kontokosta’s work is being justifiably praised by many. Read on to learn more about some of his most recent honors.

  • The Real Green Research Challenge seeks out significant projects that will better shape our understanding of sustainability in the built environment. Kontokosta was recently awarded $150,000 to fund a project based on Tenant Energy Performance Analytics. He and his team are working to understand tenant energy performance and how occupants can be motivated to become more energy efficiency through information feedback and behavior change.
  • In addition, Kontokosta was part of the research team that was awarded funding through the National Science Foundation Big Data Regional Hub program, where he leads the Urban Spoke.
  • Prof. Kontokosta also recently received a Green Building Research Grant from the Washington, DC Department of Energy and Environment to create data quality prediction algorithms for building energy benchmarking data to improve carbon reduction policies.
  • Kontokosta and his co-author, Christopher Tull, a CUSP research assistant and alumnus, garnered a best-paper award at the Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange (D4GX) conference, which aims to connect data scientists from academia and industry with the NGO, public sector and non-profit partners who can benefit most from applied data science. Their paper, “Web-Based Visualization and Prediction of Urban Energy Use from Building Benchmarking Data,” discussed the importance of increasing both the availability and comprehensiveness of building energy data in light of New York City’s pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The visualization tool—called the NYC Energy and Water Performance Map—is now in use by City of New York and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.
  • Kontokosta—who was also recently elected to Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)—is now the recipient of an IBM Faculty Award, a prestigious honor meant to foster collaboration between researchers at leading universities around the world and those from IBM. He was cited specifically for his work in leading the Quantified Community research project, particularly regarding the study of how urban design and land use impact human mobility.
  • He was also invited by the National Academy of Sciences to participate on the review panel for the NRC Research Associateship Program.