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The future of cities doesn’t fit easily within disciplinary boundaries. Traditionally, urban research has been the domain of social scientists, while architects, urban planners, and policymakers implement academic findings into real practice. But the rising availability of city data and the computation to model and simulate the complexity of cities brings new scientists and partners into the mix, opening up new possibilities for understanding, managing and building cities. For the AAAS 2014 session, “A New Era for Urban Research: Open Data and Big Computation,” CI Senior Fellow and Urban Center for Computation and Data director Charlie Catlett assembled an “all-star cast” of social scientists, computer scientists, and representatives from government and industry to illustrate these new partnerships. 

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In the big data race, biology and medicine are usually thought to lag far behind physics and astronomy. Particle accelerators and telescopes can generate petabytes of data each year, but no equivalent large instruments exist yet for the biomedical sciences. But as CI Faculty and Senior Fellow Robert Grossman pointed out to introduce “How Big Data Supports Biomedical Discovery,” his session at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting, biology and medical researchers are quickly making up the data gap with a profusion of smaller instruments. The combined activity of gene sequencers, advanced imaging, electronic medical records, self-tracking devices and other technologies could soon produce a data stream even larger than those physicists and astronomers deal with today.

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The age of the single author paper is over. In fact, the age of the single laboratory paper may be over.