The Circular City Press Release
Newlab’s Circular City Unveils new research, partnerships and data to tackle pressing urban challenges — starting with Downtown Brooklyn
Year-Long Deployment of Three Startups’ Technology Yields New Insights and Solutions to Ease Congestion, Keep Pedestrians Safe in Booming Brooklyn Neighborhood
BROOKLYN NAVY YARD – Newlab’s Circular City Showcase unveiled tonight new research and findings from its first year of collaboration with entrepreneurs, city leaders, corporate partners, and university innovators to explore how new solutions can solve pressing urban challenges. Since launching the program in May 2018, Newlab has served as a unique neutral platform to catalyze partnerships that explore the role of data in the future of cities, beginning with Downtown Brooklyn.
Conceived by Newlab, the program deployed technology from three of its member startups, CARMERA, Citiesense, and Numina in Downtown Brooklyn, in partnership with the NYCEDC, Citi Ventures, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and academics from Columbia University, NYU’s GovLab, and Cornell Tech. Since May, the partners have collected and shared data designed to help solve challenges facing Downtown Brooklyn, a booming neighborhood that has seen 31% growth in residents and 26% job growth since 2010, making it the perfect proving ground for new technologies designed to address the needs of a growing city. Highlights from that work include:
Numina’s IoT sensors have mapped how pedestrian flows in Downtown Brooklyn are impacted by construction sites and scaffolding, and how the behavior of unloading trucks can cause unsafe proximities between bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles. They also detected that 84% of car traffic entering the bus-only Fulton St. corridor came from Flatbush Avenue, rather than from suspected side streets.
CARMERA’s machine-vision software generated block-by-block pedestrian density scores; making a year’s worth of historical pedestrian density data about Downtown Brooklyn available for research and analysis.
Citiesense’s platform, also unveiled tonight, is bringing together public and private data sets for the first time in order to provide new neighborhood insights related to mobility, development, and resiliency. In doing so they’re changing how Downtown Brooklyn Partnership manages its 1,600 streetscape assets — and creating a destination to visualize
and analyze the traffic patterns captured by CARMERA and Numina’s data.
At tonight’s Showcase, Newlab also released The Circular City Research Journal, which explores the ways shared data help public and private sectors alike in addressing urban challenges.
“The Circular City’s unique partnerships show what can happen when the public and private sectors team up with enterprises and academic experts to solve real-world challenges together; when they’re given permission to test and iterate new concepts quickly, breakthroughs happen,” said Newlab’s recently-hired CEO Shaun Stewart. “Urban technologies can’t scale when they haven’t been proven, and they can’t be proven without the right collaborators at the table. The Circular City overcomes these barriers by bringing diverse stakeholders to the same table to quickly test, iterate and help scale technologies suited to the real needs of cities.”
“Downtown Brooklyn has been transformed into a thriving living lab by the smart city tech start-ups that are part of the Circular City program. Thanks to this unique partnership convened by Newlab, we now have access to information that enables us to deliver smart, data-driven solutions to operational and quality of life issues facing a booming downtown,” said Regina Myer, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “We look forward to the expansion of the program and refinement of data sets to continually improve our understanding of how Downtown Brooklyn functions, and how we can develop innovative solutions to enhance life for residents, businesses, and visitors.”
“New York City’s tech industry is experiencing record levels of investment and job growth. It’s vital that we nurture innovation through public-private partnerships, and grow technologies that will support and improve our city,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of NYCEDC. “As the talent capital of the world, with our diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem, there’s never been a better time to grow in New York City. The Circular City program is an example not only of the cutting edge startups growing here, but also how the technologies they are creating can improve quality of life for New Yorkers and cities around the world.”
“The ways that data is produced, protected, and exchanged will have a tremendous impact on the policy, planning, and development of cities,” said Columbia University’s André Corrêa d’Almeida, author of Smarter New York City and founder of Applied Research for Change (ARCx), who served as Research Director for The Circular City. “To explore these concepts in practice and create meaningful progress, sandbox environments like what Newlab created with The Circular City are desperately needed. The data and learnings generated here point to the ways emerging technologies like IoT, AI and blockchain can play a pivotal role in yielding new innovations and solutions for real urban problems.”
“At CARMERA, we’re mapping the world to make autonomy work for all. There is no better place to test the potential of our HD map data to improve urban life than in our very own backyard in Downtown Brooklyn,” remarked CARMERA CEO Ro Gupta,“With CARMERA’s proprietary pedestrian density scoring algorithm, generated by data captured from the roving sensor network deployed to maintain our high-definition maps, Newlab’s Circular City participants are studying ways to support Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s goals for building an economically vibrant, sustainable and resilient neighborhood. We know that the data we generate in the process of building high-definition maps for our autonomous vehicle customers is useful for policy and planning, and are thrilled to work with this Circular City cohort to demonstrate just how valuable it is to those who — like so many CARMERIANS — call Brooklyn home.”
The scale of Newlab’s The Circular City presented a fantastic opportunity for us to soft-launch a new product, test it in the wild before scaling up our production, and still glean findings that have massive citywide implications,” said Tara Pham, CEO of Numina. “For example, we will be announcing some numbers on the impact of scaffolding on pedestrian patterns. There are nearly 300 miles of scaffolding up in New York City. This daunting street safety risk could actually be a massive opportunity for new experiments in temporary pedestrian infrastructure, inviting placemaking installations, and cost savings for the city. As part of the Circular City initiative, we maintained our sensors with 100% uptime through all-weather conditions and validated the product’s readiness to scale up to tackle these kinds of problems at city-scale.”
“The Circular City program has been instrumental in the research and development of our solutions around local data governance,” said Starling Childs, CEO & Co-Founder of Citiesense. “Cities today are more reliant than ever on data to inform urban design and engagement and at Citiesense we see a governing framework for neighborhood-level data as foundational to the technology that all cities will need in order to enable greater innovation and quality of life to
Newlab’s flagship location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard dates back to 1902 and served as the primary machine shop for every major ship launched during World Wars One and Two. Inspired by the building’s rich history of innovation, Co-Founders David Belt and Scott Cohen envisioned a way to return the building to relevance, launching Newlab in 2016 with the aim of championing entrepreneurship and innovation.
Today, Newlab includes over 100 member companies, partnerships with forward-thinking corporate and civic entities, investment from over 270 venture capitalists, and the support of domain experts – all working together to scale frontier technologies. To date, Newlab has supported its member companies in raising over $450M in capital, with over $350M of successful exits, and a collective valuation of over $1.7B.