Making cities more sustainable, livable, and safe with urban informatics
Connecting the dots between data and human behavior
Konstantinos Pelechrinis, Associate Professor
Imagine living in a city with less smog and more bicycles. It’s a ‘smart city’ where all sorts of data – from parking meters, weather sensors, pipe sensors, public transportation ticket readers, social media, cell phone usage, and more – is analyzed to help improve the quality of life for urban residents. People plan the safest way to their next destination, whether that means detouring around unplowed roads, bypassing dangerous intersections, or avoiding areas with high crime. Merchants use data from social networks and sales receipts to analyze how previous public events impacted sales. And, the days of circling endlessly in search of an open parking spot are long gone.
This fictional urban utopia exemplifies some of the research projects Konstantinos Pelechrinis has spearheaded.
According to a recent report from the United Nations, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. Pelechrinis plans to always be one of those city dwellers. He loves everything about city life and is using urban informatics and location based social networks to help solve some of the more complex problems associated with urban environments.
Ask him about the motivation behind his research and his face brightens. “You can have an immediate impact doing this type of research,” says Pelechrinis. “We would like to see how cities can improve their services and generally improve the sustainability and livability of their city.”
Pelechrinis’ and his researchers’ work has been published in various venues, while as a pioneer in the area he has delivered several tutorials in top-tier venues (ACM WWW, AAAI ICWSM, etc.) on the emerging field of urban informatics.
Here is some press coverage his research has received:
- His working paper on the effect of shared bike systems on real estate property values has been featured in Mass Transit Magazine, Tribune Review, The Morning Call, and Plan Philly.
- His work on promotions through social media has been featured in Communications of the ACM, GeoMarketing, World News, Bloomberg Business, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station, Radio PA, and Pitt News.
- His work on safe urban navigation has been featured in Next City and datanami.
- The Pittsburgh Business Times featured his opinion on smart cities.
Pelechrinis’ research interests include network science and social computing with an emphasis on urban informatics and their application to transportation and business-related topics. He is also interested in developing methodologies for analyzing heterogenous (composite) networks.
“Models and Metrics for Composite Socio-Spatial Networks”, Army Research Office – Young Investigator award (2015).
E. Papalexakis, B. Hooi, K. Pelechrinis and C. Faloutsos, “Power-Hop: A Pervasive Observation for Real Complex Networks”, in PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151027. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151027.
K. Pelechrinis and D. Wei, “VA-index: Quantifying Assortativity Patterns in Networks with Multidimensional Nodal Attributes”, in PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146188. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146188.
E. Galbrun, K. Pelechrinis and E. Terzi, “Urban Navigation Beyond Shortest Route: The Case of Safe Paths”, in Elsevier Information Systems, Vol 57, pp 160-171, 2015.
K. Zhang, Y.R. Lin and K. Pelechrinis, “EigenTransitions with Hypothesis Testing: The Anatomy of Urban Mobility”, in AAAI ICWSM 2016, Cologne, Germany, May, 2016
K. Zhang, K. Pelechrinis and T. Lappas, “Analyzing and Modeling Special Offer Campaigns in Location-based Social Networks”, in AAAI ICWSM 2015, Oxford, UK, May, 2015.
K. Zhang and K. Pelechrinis, “Understanding Spatial Homophily: The Case of Peer Influence and Social Selection”, in ACM WWW 2014, Seoul, South Korea, April, 2014.
A. Gionis, T. Lappas, K. Pelechrinis, E. Terzi, “Customized Tour Recommendations in Urban Areas”, in ACM WSDM 2014, New York, NY, February, 2014.
“Pitt has an interdisciplinary environment and the School of Computing and Information has so much diversity among its faculty members. Faculty can collaborate on many different topics.”
Konstantinos Pelechrinis is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information, where he leads the Network Data Science Lab.