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USC Marshall Data Analytics Students Aim to Build a Smarter City

Los Angeles skyline

The role of open data in the sustainable growth of cities was the topic of a recent conference at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

The first annual “Building a Smarter Los Angeles” event invited executives, city government leaders, scholars and students to collaborate on responsible ways that digital information can be used in the growth of one of the nation’s most populous cities.

Sponsored by Team SixThirty, an advocacy organization at USC Marshall MS consisting of Business Analytics students and corporate volunteers, the event raised issues concerning data collection methods, privacy, and best practices for the improvement of city services via analytics.

Abbass Sharif, Team SixThirty advisor and assistant professor of clinical data sciences and operations remarked, “I really love it when a group of students approach me with an initiative to work on a data-related project, … I love it even more when these projects are for the benefit of society.”

Team SixThirty has collaborated with the City of Los Angeles on such projects as the analysis of traffic data with the goal of identifying the most dangerous areas for pedestrians and cyclists. Efforts such as these have both short and long-term benefits; not only can accidents be avoided, but the data enables those who choose transportation modes other than cars to increase their use, thus cutting down on pollution and congestion.

One of the issues involved in data collection is the lack of common methods among city governments, since the practice is relatively new. Also, the speed with which technologies evolve is far greater than the often archaic infrastructures that exist in the modern city.

Founder of Team SixThirty, Mingbo Gong, (MSBAn ’16) noted, “Team SixThirty is a platform that connects two sides… so that we — as data enthusiasts — can use our skills and time to help local governments achieve their goals.”

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About the Author

Maggie Boccella
Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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