Planning professor-turned-entrepreneur to help SF tackle urban problems with Big Data
NewsCenter | April 23, 2014
By Kathleen Maclay
Paul Waddell, professor and chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning, is president of a high-tech startup company, Synthicity. The startup has been chosen from a field of nearly 200 applicants as one of San Francisco’s six new Entrepreneurs in Residence, a program that is bringing together the private sector and city departments to explore innovative solutions to civic challenges.
Waddell began Synthicity in late 2012 to bring research ideas in urban planning, analysis and visualization to scale by developing new technologies to translate massive amounts of data into practical solutions to a range of urban problems. As part of the Entrepreneurs in Residence program, Synthicity will collaborate with the City departments to test solutions for the City’s most pressing problems.
The Synthicity team – which includes a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in the city and regional planning program and two alumni from the Masters in City Planning program, among others – integrate and analyze data on urban parcels, buildings, businesses, households and transportation, and conduct statistical analyses on that integrated data to assess city planning problems. “If we succeed in improving the productivity and effectiveness of planners in an iconic city like San Francisco – with its well-known active citizenry and development challenges – we think that will show that we can do it just about anywhere,” said Waddell.