Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-JFI Joins Three National Science Foundation Awards for Data-Driven Projects
October 27, 2020
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
NOTE: All University of Baltimore students are invited to attend a special information session to learn what BNIA's National Science Foundation Data Science Corps students have done so far in the program detailed below. Learn how you could join in the future! New cohorts begin every semester.
The session will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Go here for access.
A series of three National Science Foundation grant programs will include the work and support of The University of Baltimore's Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI), UB's home for research and analysis dedicated to local neighborhoods and community initiatives.
BNIA-JFI is one of four area institutions to create a Data Science Corps (DSC) training program for undergraduate students interested in using data skills for social good. This three-year, $1.2 million grant, delivered through the NSF's Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) initiative, will support a partnership with faculty from UMBC, Bowie State University, Towson University, and The University of Baltimore.
The project, led by UMBC, will pair undergraduate students in fields ranging from computer science and information systems to business administration with non-profit and governmental agencies in Baltimore City to improve service processes, while simultaneously sparking students' interest in a broad range of data science techniques. Every semester, BNIA-JFI will bring on and provide stipends to five UB students to be part of the Baltimore DSC.
According to UMBC, the program's goal is to ensure that date-science undergraduate courses "are inclusive, empowering, and effective in preparing students to tackle the urgent problems our society is working to solve, and can scale up to meet student and workforce demands."
HDR is one of NSF's 10 "Big Ideas" initiatives: national-scale activities in science and engineering designed to answer fundamental questions through new modes of data-driven discovery.
To broaden the reach of the work that DSC students will perform, BNIA-JFI will lead a collaboration with Towson University to evaluate open-data portals that will host the students’ data and challenge other students to use the data portal for social good. The $50K grant was awarded from the South Big Data Hub's Seed Fund.
Also, BNIA-JFI will be part of a four-year, $2.35 million NSF award to improve public transit planning in Baltimore. The Be an Advocate for pubLic TransportatiOn (BALTO) program will link faculty from the University of Maryland College Park"s College of Information Studies and its School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation with researchers from Morgan State University and The University of Baltimore, along with five non-academic government and civic organization partners. Together, they will develop and deploy a digital toolkit designed to spark community-informed, actionable transportation solutions for Baltimore neighborhoods.
According to the NSF, the agency's Smart and Connected Communities Program will identify socioeconomic disparities within large public transit systems.
"The public transportation planning process often overlooks the needs of low-income residents whose commutes often involve multiple bus transfers with long wait times, along with a light rail ride or the use of a rented electric scooter," the NSF says. "The BALTO project will use rider data collected via smartphone apps to identify needed improvements to Baltimore's public transit system."
Learn more about BNIA-JFI.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.