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Should you trust the 2020 election polls? Yes, but...

October 23, 2020

How much can we trust polls in 2020? Mansueto Institute data scientist Nicholas Marchio breaks down election forecasting and campaign data for UChicago News, explaining how good polling works and why it’s useful.

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News Archive 

COVID 2025: How COVID-19 Will Change Life in Cities

The latest episode of UChicago’s “COVID 2025” video series features Luis Bettencourt, Mansueto Institute Inaugural Director, who discusses how COVID-19 will challenge and change cities in the next 5 years. Watch the video here.

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Where the hotspots are now and where to expect new ones

Center for Spatial Data Science’s Marynia Kolak speaks on NPR’s All Things Considered about county-level hot spots of Coronavirus, particularly on spillover happening in border areas like the Mississippi River area from Memphis, Tennessee to Arkansas.

Study Compares Urban Quality of Life and COVID-19 Rates

The Mansueto Institute’s Human Development Index project has been named Innovation of the Month by MetroLab Network and Government Technology magazine. Find out how we’re measuring people’s quality of life at the neighborhood level and how it intersects with the COVID-19 pandemic.

#NFFStories Podcast: The Social Essence of Cities

On #NFFStories, Luis Bettencourt highlights the social essence of cities, looking at space as a platform. Listen to Norman Foster Foundation’s podcast here.

ABC 7 Chicago: Some communities where essential workers live being hit hard by COVID-19 infections and deaths

Neil Sheth, Mansueto Institute Doctoral Fellow and UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine MD-PhD candidate, joins ABC 7 Chicago’s I-TEAM report on how Chicago communities where essential workers live are being hit hard by COVID-19. Watch the full video.

Chicago Tribune: Many cities around the globe saw cleaner air after being shut down for COVID-19. But not Chicago.

Why hasn’t air pollution in Chicago decreased at the same rate as in other major cities? As scientists test new theories, UChicago researchers plan to install additional Array of Things nodes to measure air quality around Chicago and locate “pollution hot spots.”

Designs on Solidarity

“How can phrases such as ‘in solidarity’ truly activate an ethics of care in all aspects of our lives?” Nicole Rosner, Mansueto Fellow, and Daniela Rosner, of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) of the University of Washington, consider how designers should reflect and adapt in the age of COVID-19. Read more in Interactions Magazine.

Coronavirus is hitting larger cities harder. How should they respond?

New analysis from Luis Bettencourt and Urban Cognition Lab researchers Marc Berman and Andrew Stier quantifies how COVID-19 has attacked large U.S. cities at much higher rates. Although large cities are dealing with faster growing outbreaks, they may also have the socioeconomic institutions and infrastructure to respond more aggressively.

State-level data misses growing coronavirus hot spots in U.S., including in the South

Though urban areas like New York City are getting the lion’s share of media attention for their coronavirus outbreaks, researchers at the University of Chicago Center for Spatial Data Science find there are rapidly forming hot spots across the United States, including in southern states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.

The Globe and Mail: Why isn’t California’s coronavirus crisis as bad as New York’s? Size doesn’t tell the whole story.

Density, decisive action and luck are all factors in why the West Coast’s outbreaks are less terrifying than the East’s so far. Read more in The Globe and Mail about Luis Bettencourt and University of Chicago colleagues’ findings on the spread of COVID-19 in cities.

Vox: The coronavirus may hit rural America later — and harder

Rural communities “tend to be older, with more chronic illness,” making people more at risk of severe Covid-19. A new map of confirmed cases and deaths nationwide from the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science shows a disturbing trend.

Next City: Mapping Tech Could Formalize Settlements for One Billion People

The UN estimates that one billion people worldwide live in informal settlements, which lack adequate access to street networks. The Million Neighborhoods map analyzes city blocks in these informal neighborhoods to estimate where streets are needed to catch up with their formal counterparts.

Scientific American: Map Reveals Hidden U.S. Hotspots of Coronavirus Infection

By adjusting for population, researchers at the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science have identified rural areas in several states that could be disproportionally affected by COVID-19.

Uber and Lyft Are Convenient, Competitive and Highly Carbon Intensive

Ride sharing cuts emissions, but not everyone wants to share. Mansueto Institute director Luis Bettencourt weighs in on the climate impact of ride-hailing companies in InsideClimate News.

Luis Bettencourt and the Million Neighborhoods Map in El País

El físico que se propuso estudiar un millón de barrios para mejorar las ciudades. Read about the Million Neighborhoods Map and Luis Bettencourt’s research in El País.

Act Locally, Learn Globally: Luis Bettencourt on Building from the Community Up

Read more about Luis Bettencourt’s approach to studying cities as complex systems on World Resources Institute’s blog, TheCityFix, on urban sustainability and development.

ChiHackNight: Million Neighborhoods Map

Satej Soman and Cooper Nederhood, part of the Mansueto Institute’s data and research team, recently presented the Million Neighborhoods Map and their work on mapping slums and informal settlements on a global scale at Chi Hack Night to Chicago’s civic tech community. Watch the video of their presentation.

Fear of Math Can Outweigh Promise of Higher Rewards

New research in Science Advances from Mansueto Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Kyoung Whan Choe and the University of Chicago’s Jalisha Jenifer and Psychology Professor Marc Berman produces the first experimental evidence linking math anxiety and math avoidance, and insights on how to break this relationship in order to increase interest and success in STEM fields.

2019 Year in Review

The year 2019 marks the end of our second annual cycle: It was a busy year, characterized by fast growth and development. In the spirit of a new decade of progress and possibilities, here’s a countdown of memorable moments at the Mansueto Institute this past year.

Obama Scholar helps his native Nepal adapt to climate change

Dipak Bishwokarma has spent years helping communities in his native Nepal adapt to climate change. Along the way—working with local residents, non-profits and government agencies—the University of Chicago graduate student learned that doing so requires more than just a technical understanding of the environmental impacts. He shared more at the Global Symposium on Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods.

Reuters: African Slum Map Exposes True Scale of Urban Poverty

The project aims to map the whole world – eventually – and become a tool for better city planning as mayors decide which areas most need sewers, roads and other basics. Read more in this article by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Global Sustainability Summer School

The 2019 Global Sustainability Summer School is an intensive two-week program on urban sustainability and technological innovations driving global, sustainable development. Hosted at the Santa Fe Institute in partnership with the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, the program provides an immersive experience for participants to explore interdisciplinary and forward-looking approaches to urban sustainability.

The Evolution of the Galápagos

What was it like to research urbanization on the Galápagos this summer? UChicago College website features our undergraduate student researchers in this great article. Partnering with Mapillary, the team captured street-level images to gather data on urbanization and sustainable development on the islands.

2019 Galápagos Urbanization & Sustainable Development Study

A cohort of four University of Chicago undergraduate research assistants and faculty advisors will embark on the second annual Galápagos Urbanization & Sustainable Development study. The 6-week research study, led jointly by the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and the Program on the Global Environment (PGE), will explore evolution of the built environment and resource consumption on the Galápagos Islands. Read more.

Norman Foster Foundation: On Cities Debates

Luis Bettencourt was appointed this year’s mentor for the On Cities Workshop organized by the Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid, Spain, held May 27 – 31, 2019. The Foundation hosted the On Cities Public Debates, chaired by Luis Bettencourt, where speakers from architecture and urban planning discussed issues surrounding informal settlements in urban contexts and the possibilities for transformation offered by technological innovation.

How the principles of topology can help improve the world's slums

Around the world, informal settlements stem from all sorts of social and economic ills that don’t have easy solutions. But, these communities share a common trait: a lack of connectivity. Luis Bettencourt and a group of research partners have been exploring that as a math problem, and developing new tools that use topology to improve conditions in these urban areas. Read this PNAS article for more.

The Fabric of Our Lives

What’s the mathematical model behind our streets and neighborhoods? Is it possible to create the topology of a universally accessible city? Read more in Luis Bettencourt, Christa Breslford and Taylor Martin’s latest article in SIAM News, the journal for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Why a 1925 book is still relevant to urban sociology

Nearly a century ago, Robert E. Park and Ernest Burgess co-authored what was to become a seminal text for the Chicago school of sociology. The City cemented both scholars as pioneers in the field and formalized a methodological, data-driven approach that has shaped the study of cities across space and time. Learn more about its impact on contemporary scholars and continuing relevance in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Bettencourt and Sahasranaman attempt the first detailed analysis of Indian cities as complex systems

In a world of rapid urbanization and population growth, India stands at the forefront of urban and population growth. In this paper, “Urban geography and scaling of contemporary Indian cities”, Luis Bettencourt and Anand Sahasranaman set forth the first detailed analysis of Indian cities as complex systems, bringing together under a common framework a quantitative and comprehensive assessment of urban attributes.

Wired Magazine: The Excruciating, Impossible Science of Airport Delays

Do flight delays pose an economic burden alone on airlines, or is there a larger social and urban cost involved? 
Luis Bettencourt discusses how flight delays have unforeseen effects on the influence, logistics, and economies of large cities in this article by Wired Magazine.

Blog Post: Read more about the UChicago Urbanists Group led by Students at the College

Jein Park, class of 2020, founded the UChicago Urbanists in Fall 2017 with the goal of creating a dedicated space for undergraduates to engage in conversations about urbanism and cities. Lean more about how this student group is exchanging perspectives on vital issues that face cities today, ranging across urban worker populations all the way to neighborhood crime.

Luis Bettencourt and the Power of Physics

How is physics – a field that generated foundational discoveries in antiquity that are still evolving today – driving modern innovation? Luis Bettencourt discusses beginning his academic career in the study of physics, and how it now helps him to think about cities in a distinct way.

How Mapping in the Galapagos Could Create More Sustainable Cities

Mansueto Institute researchers spent the summer in the Galapagos studying how human development can be sustainably managed to coexist with the environment. Over the course of four weeks, our team gathered drone and satellite imagery to create 3D topographical models of one of the largest towns in the Islands. Analyzing this data and changes over time may inform sustainable development practices in the Galapagos and beyond. Read more and watch the video.

Discussion Video: A Conversation on the Future of Cities

Watch the video from our fall Urban Innovations event, which brought together Nicholas Negroponte and Carol Coletta to discuss innovative solutions to pressing issues faced by cities around the world. With moderation by Luis Bettencourt, the panelists explored technological advances, community-oriented interventions, and where the two can be integrated to achieve common goals.

Apply for the 2019 Global Sustainability Summer School

The Mansueto Institute is partnering with the Santa Fe Institute to sponsor the 2019 Global Sustainability Summer School, an intensive two-week program on issues of urban sustainability and technological innovations driving global, sustainable development. The school is for participants who seek background and hands-on experience to help them prepare to conduct interdisciplinary research in areas related to urban sustainability. Learn more and apply today.

Math Helps Sprawling Cities Grow Sustainably And Reduce Slum Conditions

Check out the Forbes coverage of Luis Bettencourt’s participation in research analyzing community maps, satellite imagery and municipal data from a dozen cities to create a general new tool for urban planning. The study identifies key properties of street networks in order to develop the most efficient ways to build roads and water, gas and sanitation infrastructure in existing slums to quickly improve the quality of life for underserved residents.

Scientists Develop Tools to Bring Infrastructure to Slums

Of the estimated 4 billion people living in urban areas worldwide, nearly a billion reside in slums. A coalition of researchers analyzed community maps, satellite imagery and municipal data from a dozen cities to create a general new tool for urban planning. The resulting study identifies key properties of street networks in order to develop the most efficient ways to build roads and water, gas and sanitation infrastructure in existing slums to quickly improve the quality of life for underserved residents.

Cities as Systems: Seminar Recap

Over the summer, Juval Portugali, a leading researcher in adapting complexity theory to the study of cities, joined the Mansueto Institute to give a lecture on cognition, information, and the city. Read the insightful reflections from UChicago faculty who attended, and a recap of big ideas Professor Portugali shared.

Students and UChicago Scientists Turn Wrigley Field into Data Lab

Array of Things researchers worked with students from Lane Technical College Prep High School on building, programming and deploying their own sensor “nodes,” gaining hands-on experience with technologies that helps scientists better understand cities

Urban Innovations Event Video

Part of the Mansueto Institute’s Urban Innovations Series, watch the dynamic discussion between First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray and Institute of Politics Fellow Dr. Nneka Jones-Tapia on the challenges that face incarcerated women, and the innovative solutions in New York and Chicago.

New Gift from David and Susan Kreisman Will Support Expansion of Kreisman Initiative for Housing Law and Policy

Thanks to a $5 million gift from David Kreisman, AB ’60, JD ’63, and his wife, Susan, the University of Chicago’s Kreisman Initiative for Housing Law and Policy will expand to include new programs aimed at advancing housing scholarship.

Firewall Podcast with Bradley Tusk

Luis Bettencourt joins host Bradley Tusk to discuss cities as their own type of technology, bringing people together to interact, collaborate, and produce collectively, and repeat on a fast daily rhythm.

Mansueto Institute Joins 2018 CityXChange Summit

Luis Bettencourt joined global city, technology and venture capital leaders to share innovative ideas that lay the groundwork for cities and technology companies to better collaborate in the future.

2018 Venice Biennale

University of Chicago and School of the Art Institute will serve as commissioners of the United States Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Knowledge Applied Podcast

Science combines with data to reveal the complexity of cities.

The circular economy could save life on Earth – starting with our cities

Imagine a future where human prosperity does not translate into sacrificing nature. A world with no wastes, no pollution, where animals and plants on land and in the oceans prosper from the existence of humans as much as we do from the biology and geophysics of the Earth. Is this impossible? Or must life on Earth be a zero-sum game between humanity and other species?

The Math Behind a Localized Approach to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

World Urban Forum 9 convened earlier this year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to take the measure of our fast-urbanizing world. Central to all discussions was how to create human sustainable development worldwide through better cities as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda. At this point, the problem of implementing the goals is not if but how? Let’s do the math: This will reveal the kind of framework necessary.

The city is not a massive machine

Luis Bettencourt speaks about how transit-oriented development can create sustainable megacities.