497-103: Public Safety Innovation: Awareness + Preparedness + Responsiveness + Recovery

Meeting Day/Time
Tuesdays from 1:50 to 4:30 pm
Staff, TBD
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome.

The Public Safety Workshop will be comprised of up to 100 students organized as approximately 20 interdisciplinary teams. The Public Safety Workshop teams will be coordinated by a team of faculty members with complementary expertise in (a) innovation methods to guide the semester process and (b) expertise in the data science, predictive analytics, disaster preparedness and responsiveness, etc., and spanning the fields of architecture, engineering, science (including data science), business and information technology.

 The Public Safety Workshop offers several topic areas for interdisciplinary teams. This includes the opportunity to collaborate with one or more public safety organizations sponsored by the Motorola Solutions Foundation, including the American Red Cross, with its focus on improving preparedness and responsiveness to fire emergencies by studying a diversity of big data sets, patterns and insights derived from them.

Anticipating and managing disasters has never been more critical to the safety of individuals, property, and the economy, than it is today. The purpose of this IPRO project is to apply “Big Data” techniques to improve public safety relative to natural and man-made disasters. Our initial focus will be on learning the “Big Data” analytical research process – Data Gathering, Pre-Processing, Modeling and Visualization. We will then explore our findings for logical implications for the future, and Predictive Analytics.

In general, Public Safety Workshop teams will pursue the following goals:

  1. Select and explore a specific research question in a socially relevant topic. This goal will be accomplished by students reflecting on and sharing what is important to them and using their passions to select a topic area and a specific research question to address public safety in the face of disasters with a focus on fire emergencies.
  2. Learn each step of the Big Data analytical research process. This goal is addressed by organizing IPRO team members that study a large data set to identify and answer an important questions associated with an urban social/technical issue, their research question in a compelling way and show their results.

Students representing a variety of disciplines have an opportunity to explore their interests and apply their knowledge in a collaborative way that creates enhancements for public safety and preparedness for and responsiveness to fire emergencies: information design, devices and applications, designs and technology solutions for the built environment, social behavior patterns, public policy and the regulatory environment, etc.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON BIG DATA: This IPRO section is inspired by the conviction that data science is the foundation field on which to introduce a progressive, developmental approach to building “data consciousness” into the fabric of learning. This includes learning how to make decisions based on the best available data, and to discern and understand the meaning of the data they may encounter. Issues of ethics, privacy and security also come into play in a variety of organization settings. The goal is to advance all learners toward higher levels of data competency: data literacy (understanding data and statistical concepts) begins in the early years, data science expertise (designing data science analyses) typically starts in the undergraduate college years, and data science mastery (building data science systems and performing complex analyses) is developed at the graduate school and working professional levels. This then extends to the responsibility professionals have as citizens and as leaders in a range of roles in society, the economy and government.

General Overview of the IPRO Workshop Format

The IPRO workshop format gives students the opportunity to choose a broad, overarching theme but leave their options open regarding a specific team topic under the theme. The IPRO workshop sections replace the IPRO 397-xxx and IPRO 497-xxx course sections that have been offered for some time.

Individual topic offerings within a workshop include those conceived by (a) faculty members based on their research or contemporary marketplace challenges and opportunities, as well as (b) IPRO teams within the workshop that are motivated to pursue challenges and opportunities based on their own research insights, interdisciplinary interests and passion. In addition, each workshop offers students a choice between (a) a project experience that emphasizes hands-on prototyping, programming, etc. vs (b) a project experience that emphasizes analysis and planning, although all experiences will have elements of both.

 While each workshop has a distinctive, overarching theme, pursuit of challenges and opportunities, and the development of concepts and solutions that have value, requires the application of a toolbox of enabling technologies, techniques and ways of thinking and decision making in various ways and at various levels. This challenges students to apply the body of knowledge associated with their disciplines that can include the following:

  • Data science/data mining/predictive analytics
  • Mobile apps/social media/digital humanities/networks/cyber-security
  • Advanced materials/systems thinking/mobility/infrastructure
  • Political and societal discourse/health and well-being/education and training.

Innovation is often characterized as a great idea executed well and thus capitalizing on the excitement, challenge and rewarding prospect of addressing critical public safety topics in a meaningful way — via the melding of user-centered design thinking based on insights, brainstorming and prototyping (the great idea) with the rigorous application of engineering and other transformative design methods (executed well) —  creates a compelling experience for everyone involved.


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