Syracuse Partners with University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good, Developing an Early Warning System for Water Infrastructure

Syracuse Had Record-Setting 372 Water Main Breaks in 2015 and 391 in 2014, Affecting the City’s System of Century-Old Pipes  

Miner: DSSG Partnership Will Enable Syracuse to Make Critical Repairs, Prevent Catastrophic Breaks, and Provide Affordable Access to Clean Water

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Mayor Stephanie A. Miner announced a new partnership today between the City of Syracuse and Data Science for Social Good (DSSG), a fellowship program of the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago. The City will partner with a team of fellows in the program to develop an early warning system to determine which water mains are the most vulnerable to breaks.

“Determining which areas of the City have the greatest potential for water main breaks will enable our Departments to make critical repairs to mains, prevent catastrophic breaks, and provide affordable access to clean water,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. “I am pleased that the City is working with Data Science for Social Good to develop new ways to incorporate data science into our decision making.”

“We’re excited to partner with Syracuse on this project, which is our first applying data science to the critical issue of urban infrastructure,” said Rayid Ghani, director of the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship. “Our hope is that this collaboration will not only help Syracuse address their local challenges, but will also provide a template for other cities struggling with similar problems.”

DSSG will work with Syracuse to create a data-driven process for prioritizing the proactive repairs of the City’s most vulnerable water mains. This predictive model will be made using data on the water system, streets, work orders, and service calls.  The analysis will also help the administration make decisions about the kinds of replacement mains that are best suited for different locations and environments. This will support efforts to coordinate maintenance between departments to increase the efficiency of cross-departmental communications.

Mayor Miner added, “This early warning system will help us implement our ‘Dig Once’ philosophy, collaborating across City departments to ensure that when work is done, we are making all the necessary improvements to underground infrastructure. By making our departments do complementary work, it holistically upgrades our infrastructure and uses limited resources more efficiently and effectively.”

The Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) Summer Fellowship creates a new community of experts – graduate  students and data professionals from around the globe — driven to improve the world using data, computational, and scientific approaches. For fourteen weeks, 42 fellows in Chicago work with nonprofit and government partners on important, real-world problems, applying data mining, machine learning, statistical, and social science techniques to craft novel and useful solutions. This year, the program will focus on projects in education, economic development, public health and safety, infrastructure, sanitation, criminal justice, and social services.