John Albertson is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering in 1985 he worked for 6 years in the electric power industry, during which time he earned an MBA and Professional Engineers license (CT). In 1991 he left industry to return to academia, earning a master’s degree from Yale University in 1993 and a Ph.D. from the University of California Davis in 1996. Prior to joining Cornell, Albertson held positions at Duke University and the University of Virginia. Albertson’s research is focused on atmospheric turbulent transport, with an emphasis on data-model fusion for impact mitigation. His activity with the Veho Institute surrounds mobile sensing of air quality in urban environments, and the general advancement of smart city technologies.
Engineering Smart Cities: The interaction of urban form and function within the city’s environmental envelope
From an environmental perspective, cities are sources of heat and pollutants as well as being a sink of momentum through their drag on the atmosphere. The emissions sources come from the function of the urban infrastructure (e.g. transportation, manufacturing, power generation, and building energy use.) However, the impacts of these emission sources on local environmental quality, and the underlying urban populations, are mediated by the transport, mixing and chemical reaction processes of the lower atmosphere. Therefore, both the local urban form and the prevailing meteorological conditions play leading order roles in the mapping of emissions to impacts (e.g. urban heat island, rainfall extremes, and air quality.) This conceptualization, taken along with recent technological developments, raises two exciting opportunities in the smart city space: 1) with widespread sensor coverage, network connectivity, heterogeneous data fusion, and inverse modeling of environmental processes we can achieve real-time continuous surveillance for identifying and characterizing emergent emission problems; and, 2) with a high-fidelity model of the coupled built-natural environment we have the potential to control the infrastructure operation in space and time (e.g. traffic flow patterns), conditioned on forecast meteorological conditions, to maintain a healthy and equitable distribution of air quality. Ultimately, these two views could merge into a full digital-twin implementation of a city’s coupled energy- transportation-environment system. This would open exciting opportunities to inform urban design, to guide sustainability pathways, and to reduce environmental justice problems, to name just a few.
An architect and engineer by training, Professor Carlo Ratti teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he directs the Senseable City Lab, and is a founding partner of the international design and innovation office Carlo Ratti Associati. He graduated from the Politecnico di Torino and the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris, and later earned his MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK.
A leading voice in the debate on new technologies’ impact on urban life and design, Carlo has co-authored over 500 publications, including “The City of Tomorrow” (Yale University Press, with Matthew Claudel), and holds several technical patents. His articles and interviews have appeared on international media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Scientific American, BBC, Project Syndicate, Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24 Ore, Domus. His work has been exhibited worldwide at venues such as the Venice Biennale, the Design Museum Barcelona, the Science Museum in London, MAXXI in Rome, and MoMA in New York City.
Carlo has been featured in Esquire Magazine’s ‘Best & Brightest’ list and in Thames & Hudson’s selection of ‘60 innovators’ shaping our creative future. Blueprint Magazine included him as one of the ‘25 People Who Will Change the World of Design’, Forbes listed him as one of the ‘Names You Need To Know’ and Fast Company named him as one of the ’50 Most Influen-tial Designers in America’. He was also featured in Wired Magazine’s ‘Smart List: 50 people who will change the world’. Three of his projects – the Digital Water Pavilion, the Copenhagen Wheel and Scribit – have been included by TIME Magazine in the list of the ‘Best Inventions of the Year’.
Carlo has been a presenter at TED (in 2011 and 2015), program director at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, curator of the BMW Guggenheim Pavilion in Berlin, and was named Inaugural Innovator in Residence by the Queensland Government. He was the curator of the Future Food District pavilion for the 2015 World Expo in Milan and chief curator of the “Eyes of the City” section at the 2019 UABB Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism of Shenzhen. He is currently serving as cochair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization.
For further information visit www.carloratti.com and senseable.mit.edu
Today, our cities produce unprecedented amounts of data, which can be harnessed and transformed into responses from the citizens or the government. The convergence between digital information and the physical environment, bound by IoT networks, has enormous potential. Applications can be indeed manifold: from waste management, to energy, public health, civic participation, mobility… For instance, real time data collected from cities can radically transform the way we get around, and how we design our roads – in a more efficient way: today, it gives us a new understanding of the COVID pandemic’s impact on mobility infrastructure. Smart working introduces the possibility to “flatten the curve” of peak-hour road usage through staggered commuting. Looking to the future, self-driving vehicles promise to influence urban life even more substantially by blurring the distinction between private and public modes of transportation. “Your” car could give you a lift to work in the morning and then, rather than sitting idle in a parking lot, give a lift to someone else in your family – or, for that matter, to anyone else in your neighborhood, social-media community, or city.
Anna Scaglione (M.Sc.’95, Ph.D. ’99) is currently a professor in electrical and computer at Cornell Tech, the New York City campus of Cornell University. Prior to rejoining Cornell in 2022, she held faculty positions at Arizona State University, the University of California at Davis, Cornell University (the first time, from 2001 to 2008) and the University of New Mexico. She is IEEE fellow since 2011 and received the 2013, IEEE Donald G. Fink Prize Paper Award, the 2000 IEEE Signal Processing Transactions Best Paper Award the NSF CAREER grant (2002). She is co-recipient with her students of several best student papers awards at conferences and received the 2013 IEEE Signal Processing Society Young Author Best Paper Award with one of the PhD students. She was Distinguished Lecturer of the Signal Processing Society in 2019 and 2020. Dr. Scaglione’s expertise and research considers theoretical and applied problems is in statistical signal processing, communications networks and cyber-physical infrastructures for sustainable energy delivery systems, where her work has focused on addressing renewable sources and demand response integration and emerging cyber-security challenges.
The coupling of electric power and transportation infrastructures: opportunities and challenges
The electric grid is at the cusp of significant transformation, due to the pressure of increasing the penetration of distributed renewable energy resources that is both economically beneficial (renewable energy has never been cheaper) as well as necessary to curb CO2 emissions and address climate change. On the demand side, the pressure for change comes from ensuring a smooth transition to electrified transportation systems. In fact, large populations of electric vehicles can be either an immense resource of flexibility for the grid, or a foe, depending on how car charging is managed both spatially as well as in time. This talk will explain why, if car charging that is not aligned with peaks of renewables, the costs of power generation and delivery will increase. More importantly, we will describe possible solutions. Specifically, we will model the coupling for these two networks that allows to define strategies for computing congestion pricing for travel and charging at the retail level. We will discuss how to design digital interfaces, so that individuals can make independent driving and charging decisions, while minimizing energy and transportation costs. Furthermore, we will describe how to capture this flexibility at the level of whole-sale markets of electricity, through aggregate low order models that allow to foresee the behavior of the populations of electric vehicles in clearing the market at the transmission grid level.