Students at Seattle, Vancouver universities ‘create something really incredible’ in aim to help both cities thrive

Sep 12, 2017   |   Suzanne Choney

Five University of Washington students from a Data for Social Good team
Steve Barham, center, data scientist for the Seattle Department of Transportation and project lead for the University of Washington Data Science for Social Good project on traffic sensor data and vehicle cruising, with project fellows, from left, Orysya Stus, Anamol Pundle, Michael Vlah and Brett Bejcek. Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Orysya Stus is used to traffic. She’d seen plenty of it growing up in the Bay Area in California. But when she got to Seattle and drove downtown for the first time, trying to find a parking space was an exercise in frustration, exacerbated by all the other drivers desperately circling to find an elusive spot for their vehicles.

“This is definitely a problem,” says Stus, a graduate student who over the summer worked to help solve the issue. “It’s not that easy to get downtown if you have a car.”

A few hours north across the Canadian border, a group of undergraduate and graduate students worked to help the growing Vancouver suburb of Surrey make sure the bus system is operating the most efficient routes.

The Seattle and Vancouver metropolitan areas share more than their breathtaking scenery and growing tech industries: They both face rising housing prices, homelessness, increasing traffic – and also the great potential to work together to solve these and other urban challenges.

That’s why Stus was among 28 students from the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who used data science and analytics projects to tackle traffic, transportation and other metropolitan issues over the summer. Academic researchers and public stakeholder groups also participated in the projects in Data Science for Social Good programs, done with support from the Microsoft-sponsored Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative.

The cooperative is part of the year-old Cascadia Innovation Corridor, created last fall when the governments of Washington state and British Columbia signed a formal agreement to deepen their collaboration in key areas like trade, research, transportation and education for the 12 million people living in the region.

Some of the students’ work is being shared at the second Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle.

Read the full story at Microsoft News Center.

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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