Town+Gown first piloted knowledge co-creation sessions in 2018 to engage in “real time” co-creation of knowledge to identify what we know and what we don’t know on a particular topic and what need to know to make changes in practice and policy based on research. After years of conducting research, disseminating research results in Building Ideas and holding symposium events to reflect on results and move them toward action, Town+Gown needed a mechanism to accelerate the action research cycle and move Town+Gown’s work to the “thought leader” stage and toward a more systemic form of decision-making.
These co-creation sessions led to the creation of Town+Gown’s working groups where Town+Gown could provide an architecture for intentional, targeted intentional research projects focused on the identified research gap and increase academic synthesis and translation of the results to serve as useful applied research resources for policy makers. The research needs of the working group will be reflected in the Town+Gown research agenda and completed research projects and initiatives within the working groups will be reflected in future Symposium events.
Below are the five working groups in Town+Gown.
Urban Resource Recovery (URR): Initially created as the Construction+Demolition Waste working group, the URR Working Group is focused on supporting applied research and innovative policy design to close construction material loops on a city-wide basis. The URR has developed a Closing Loops City Program (CLEP) that initially focuses on recycled concrete aggregate, glass pozzolan and soil, with biosolids and other materials to follow and leverages the City’s capital program to increase the re-use of CDW generated on City capital projects on other capital projects.
Systemic Construction Data Analytics: Town+Gown has been working with data analytic students on a series of data analytics projects using DDC project data (see video). The actual findings were less important than the fact that administrative data are amenable to data analytic techniques to produce insight for construction process management. The Systemic Construction Data Analytics working group has expanded its systemic data analyses using city-wide data from the Capital Project Dashboard, generating initial system-wide insights, from which the working group can add more granular construction agency project data to derive actionable insights.
Resilient People, Places and Projects (RP3): Following two symposium events focusing on resiliency, the RP3 working group has developed a research project to apply the Neighborhood Activation Study methodology, Envision framework and the City’s Resiliency Design Guidelines holistically to a group of capital projects in the Financial Plan “out years” of the Financial Plan period for two case study Community Districts that include all elements of resiliency—coastal flooding, inland flooding and urban heat island effect— to identify potential project synergies and run those projects through a life cycle cost benefit model to assess whether it is possible for such project synergies to create additional resiliency value for less or the same amount of investment. Latter phases of this research project will focus on ways to make the existing process more effective in translating community knowledge during capital project planning and design phases.
Toward a "Smarter" City: Utilidors (Utilidor): Town+Gown has been focusing on issues “under the roadway” and in particular on the idea of multi-utility tunnels—or utilidors—which had gained some interest during the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after 9/11. The work of the Utilidor working group has expanded its purview from “under the roadway” to “under the surface”, which is a limited, non-renewable resource, and is developing an innovative policy for implementing utilidors as part of the City’s standard roadway reconstruction program to solve subsurface—and surface—issues. The Utilidor working group is focusing on life cycle cost benefit analysis modeling for this initiative.
Sounds of New York City (SONYC): Construction Noise: This National Science Foundation-funded project at NYU/Tandon is developing technological solutions, including sensors that can be mounted to different urban features, for the systematic, constant monitoring of noise pollution at city scale and the accurate description of various sources of noise. The SONYC working group is working with the NSF team to identify City capital projects suitable for sensoring in order for the system to identify multiple specific construction noises over time and space so that the resulting data produced from the system could assist the City with testing and validating in real time various existing and new mitigation actions on specific public and private construction projects.