The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit technology consortium that supports Linux’s growth, standardization, and commercial adoption, today announced a new industry-wide effort to create a common set of software required to “support the cities of tomorrow.” The freshly minted Urban Computing Foundation will offer a forum for developers to build open source tools that connect cities, autonomous vehicles, and smart infrastructure, and that target ongoing challenges in multimodal transportation and civil engineering.
Urban Computing Foundation will provide forum for developers to collaborate on and build a common set of open source tools connecting cities, autonomous vehicles and smart infrastructure
SAN FRANCISCO, May 7, 2019 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the formation of the Urban Computing Foundation to accelerate open source software that improves mobility, safety, road infrastructure, traffic congestion and energy consumption in connected cities. Initial contributors include developers from Uber, Facebook, Google, HERE Technologies, IBM, Interline Technologies, Senseable City Labs, StreetCred Labs and University of California San Diego (UCSD).
As cities and transportation networks evolve into ever-more complicated systems, urban computing is emerging as an important field to bridge the divide between engineering, visualization and traditional transportation systems analysis. However, these advancements are dependent on compatibility among many technologies across different public and private organizations. Urban Computing Foundation will provide a neutral forum for this critical work, including adaption of geospatial and temporal machine learning techniques and urban environments and simulation methodologies for modeling and predicting city-wide phenomena. To contribute to this work, please visit the Urban Computing Foundation website.
“During moments of both technology disruption and opportunity, open development is critical for enabling interoperability and speeding adoption,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “The Urban Computing Foundation is poised to provide the compatibility tools and resources for developers to create software that can map out and operate technology services in any given urban area, ensuring safety and equitable access to transportation.”
The first project hosted at the Foundation is https://kepler.gl/, an open source geospatial analysis tool created by Uber for building large-scale data sets. Kepler was released in 2018 to help make it easier to create meaningful visualizations of location data without the need for coding. Kepler.gl is used by developers, data scientists, visualization specialists and engineers around the world to explore and analyze a variety of scenarios that include transportation patterns and safety trends. Some of the companies using Kepler.gl include Airbnb, Atkins Global, Cityswifter, HERE Technologies, Limebike, Mapbox, Sidewalk Labs, Uber and UBILabs, among others.
“As a founding participant with the Urban Computing Foundation, Uber is honored to contribute Kepler.gl as the initiative’s first official project,” said Travis Gorkin, Uber Data Visualization Lead and Urban Computing Foundation TAC contributor. “Technologies like Kepler.gl have the capacity to advance urban planning by helping policymakers and local governments gain critical insights and better understand data about their cities.”
The Foundation will use an open governance model being developed by the Technical Advisory Council (TAC), which includes a variety of technical and IP stakeholders in the urban computing space. Project inclusion will be determined by a review and curation process managed by the TAC.
TAC contributors include:
- Drew Dara-Abrams, principal, Interline Technologies
- Oliver Fink, director HERE XYZ, HERE Technologies
- Travis Gorkin, engineering manager of data visualization, Uber
- Shan He, project leader of Kepler.gl, Uber
- Randy Meech, CEO, StreetCred Labs
- Michal Migurski, engineering manager of spatial computing, Facebook
- Drishtie Patel, product manager of maps, Facebook
- Paolo Santi, senior researcher, MIT
- Max Sills, attorney, Google
The Urban Computing Foundation aims to provide open access to tools and platforms for developers in both public and private organizations who are building connected solutions for mobility, reducing congestion and pollution and increasing access; safety, new technologies to create a world where it’s safe and easy for everyone to get around; and insights, anonymized data from citizens that can help urban planning around the world.
Founding Participant Comments
“We find the Urban Computing Foundation’s mission to be compelling in that it not only has the potential to minimize pollution, congestion and consumption but to ensure that technology has a positive impact on the urban landscapes. We are pleased to join the Urban Computing Foundation as a founding contributor,” said Michael Cheng from the Facebook Open Source Team.
“Civic organizations and citizens alike need ready access to data about their cities to make better decisions about transportation, construction and energy consumption. The Urban Computing Foundation’s mission to make that possible is closely aligned with Google’s approach to open data. Making it easier to access, visualize and process these kinds of large data sets is indeed at the heart of Google Cloud. We are excited to join the Urban Computing Foundation as a founding contributor and work on our shared goal of improving the world we live in,” said Chris DiBona, director, Open Source and Science Outreach, Google Cloud.
“The ‘sharing economy’ is continuing to find new opportunities for consumers and businesses to connect in amazing ways. We believe the Urban Computing Foundation’s mission of providing a transparent and fair way for appropriate urban data sharing will foster open development and rapid innovation. For over a decade, we’ve focused on helping to build the latest open source projects and communities, and sharing in the work under open governance. We are pleased to continue this tradition with the Urban Computing Foundation and look forward to overall benefits the community will produce together,” said Todd Moore, vice president IBM Open Technology and Developer Advocacy, IBM.
“HERE Technologies is excited to join the Urban Computing Foundation as we work together on the urban transportation and mobility challenges of today and tomorrow. The interoperability of software and access to data are essential to gaining insights from disparate sources of information, and the Linux Foundation serves as the ideal organization for this cross-industry effort. Through this collaboration and services like HERE XYZ, we are proud to help build the data specifications and open source technology to improve urban mobility,” said Oliver Fink, director of HERE XYZ
“Joining the Urban Computing Foundation is an easy decision for Interline Technologies. The focus areas are like ours: transportation and mobility. Similarly, we already rely upon and contribute to opensource software, open datasets and shared data specs. The Linux Foundation as a venue is ideal,” said Drew Dara-Abrams, principal at Interline Technologies, and head of mobility products at Mapzen. “Interline is pleased to also participate in the Mapzen Foundation under the same umbrella. Finally, and most importantly, Interline and Urban Computing Foundation have similar goals: useful collaboration between organizations across the private, public and academic sectors.”
Senseable City Labs
“For over 10 years, the MIT Senseable City Lab has been doing cutting-edge research on how to use big data to better understand cities. The Urban Computing Foundation initiative is extremely promising to us, as it aims to give open and standardized access to an ever-growing number of urban datasets. We look forward to contributing to its success, as it could help leapfrog urban science,” said Carlo Ratti, director, MIT Senseable City Lab, and Paolo Santi, research scientist, MIT Senseable City Lab.
“StreetCred is excited to join the Urban Computing Foundation to work on open urban mobility. Working with the Linux Foundation through Mapzen has been a great experience, and I’m happy to see it branch out into other critical areas for collaborative innovation,” said Randy Meech, CEO, StreetCred Labs and Mapzen Foundation.
University of California San Diego
“The Urban Computing project is a natural fit for UC San Diego’s efforts to develop a smart campus with autonomous transportation options. With almost 70,000 people on campus every day, we have all the needs of smart city. The UC San Diego campus is a natural testbed for the Urban Computing platform, and UC San Diego researchers and students, working in their own backyard, will be able to contribute to the project and its results. The Urban Computing project engages the Halicioglu Data Science Institute led by Prof. Rajesh Gupta and the Contextual Robotics Institute led by Prof. Henrik Christensen,” Todd Hylton, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure, including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users, and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at linuxfoundation.org.
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