Uniting Design, Economics, and Policy

Book cover: aerial view of urban coastline
Book cover: aerial view of urban coastline

Chapter 12. Coastal Urbanism: Designing the Future Waterfront
(pages 259–276)
Rafi Segal and Susannah Drake

COASTAL URBANISM PRESENTS a new paradigm of waterfront development and upland adaptation for the twenty-first century. Through an iterative, interdisciplinary, team-oriented design approach, communities can come together with their elected officials to engage in meaningful adaptation of the waterfront to reduce future damage and loss while securing more resilient and healthy environments. In January 2017, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) launched a design competition,funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, that called on architects, landscape architects, and urban planners to demonstrate how…


What our history with animals reveals about our future with robots
By Kate Darling

Cover book illustration of farm and wild animals
Cover book illustration of farm and wild animals

“Animals are good to think with.”

— Claude Lévi-Strauss

I was twelve weeks pregnant and nauseous, but excited. After two days of co-running a workshop in Mountain View, California, I had been handed an opportunity I couldn’t resist, so I woke up at the crack of dawn and flew from San Jose to Denver to Boston to Zurich, and took multiple trains to Bavaria, Germany, determined to get to my destination: Ingolstadt.

Ingolstadt is a university town on the banks of the Danube River with beautiful…


Andres Sevtsuk’s new work estimates foot traffic in cities — so planners and developers can study the flow of people, not just vehicles.

Images of pedestrians walking over a city map
Images of pedestrians walking over a city map
By counting pedestrians in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Associate Professor Andres Sevtsuk has produced a new model of pedestrian flows on street networks that can be used for city planning. Image: Christine Daniloff, MIT

A key portion of MIT’s campus overlaps with Kendall Square, the bustling area in East Cambridge where students, residents, and tech employees scurry around in between classes, meetings, and meals. Where are they all going? Is there a way to make sense of this daily flurry of foot traffic?

In fact, there is: MIT Associate Professor Andres Sevtsuk has made Kendall Square the basis of a newly published model of pedestrian movement that could help planners and…


— An excerpt from the new book, Furthering Fair Housing: Prospects for Racial Justice in America’s Neighborhoods

Book cover graphic combining a generic city map, family members and residences along the street.
Book cover graphic combining a generic city map, family members and residences along the street.
(Courtesy of Temple University Press)

Over the past half-century, socioeconomic mobility in the United States has declined dramatically. Ninetypercent of children born in the 1940s grew up to earn more than their parents, compared to only 50 percent ofchildren born in the 1980s.[1] These backward steps have not been experienced evenly. As socioeconomic mobility has declined broadly across America, the economic gains experienced by African Americanhouseholds immediately following the civil rights movement have largely reversed. …


A new way of thinking about data science and data ethics, informed by the ideas of intersectional feminism.

by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein

Introduction: We wrote this book because we are data scientists and data feminists. Although we speak as a “we” in this book, and share certain identities, experiences, and skills, we have distinct life trajectories and motivations for our work on this project. If we were sitting with you right now, we would each introduce ourselves by answering the question: What brings you here today? Placing ourselves in that scenario, here is what we would have to say.

Catherine: I am a hacker mama. I spent fifteen years as a freelance software developer and…


How to use data as a tool for empowerment rather than oppression

Like words on a page or paint on a canvas, a message that is shared through data represents the thoughts and ideas of the person who shares it. Data analytics and the resulting insights communicated through visualizations have done tremendous good in the world, from easing and stopping disease to exposing exploitation and human rights violations. At the same time data analytics and algorithms all too often exclude women, the poor, and ethnic groups. How do we reconcile the potential of data to marginalize people and reinforce racism…


By Ezra Haber Glenn

This article was originally published by Experience Magazine, a publication of Northeastern University that tells stories at the intersection of humanity and technology. Follow @expmag

I am sitting in the dark, in a crowded room of strangers, watching black and white images of the city of Los Angeles, circa 1940, flicker past on a screen. The film has no traceable plot, and the city itself is the only character — other than the people in the audience, who, I come to realize, are the real performers.

As the movie unfolds and the room warms up, people…


Photo credit: M. Iacobo

New ideas, better policies can help sustain good careers

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office

The American workforce is at a crossroads. Digitization and automation have replaced millions of middle-class jobs, while wages have stagnated for many who remain employed. A lot of labor has become insecure, low-income freelance work.

Yet there is reason for optimism on behalf of workers, as scholars and business leaders outlined in an MIT conference on Wednesday. Automation and artificial intelligence do not just replace jobs; they also create them. And many labor, education, and safety-net policies could help workers greatly as well.

That was…


At MIT, a young architect finds the perfect platform for collaborative learning

MIT graduate student Ous Abou Ras is focusing on the emergent field of computational architecture

AS A YOUNG CHILD, OUS ABOU RAS LOVED going to work with his father, an architect, and poring over building plans. Originally from Syria, Abou Ras grew up in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and has always been drawn to building and design. “I used to love playing with LEGOs,” he recalls, “and initially I wanted to be an engineer.” …


New approach could spark an era of battery-free ocean exploration, with applications ranging from marine conservation to aquaculture.

GPS isn’t waterproof. The navigation system depends on radio waves, which break down rapidly in liquids, including seawater. To track undersea objects like drones or whales, researchers rely on acoustic signaling. But devices that generate and send sound usually require batteries — bulky, short-lived batteries that need regular changing. Could we do without them?

MIT researchers think so. They’ve built a battery-free pinpointing system dubbed Underwater Backscatter Localization (UBL). Rather than emitting its own acoustic signals, UBL reflects modulated signals from its…

MIT School of Architecture + Planning

The MIT School of Architecture + Planning: Design is the space between people and their environment. This is our territory.

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