Hudson Yards: A connected neighborhood grows in Manhattan

The much-ballyhooed Hudson Yards project in New York isn't just remarkable for being the largest private real estate development in U.S. history, it's also the nation's first "Quantified Community" — one in which data will be collected about almost every physical and environmental nuance of the neighborhood.

The information measured by sensors and other instruments installed throughout the community — which will cost $20 billion to build — will be used for everything from controlling air quality to predicting traffic flow to modeling energy production and usage. The infrastructure is being designed by New York University's Center for Urban Science and Progress along with the developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group.

What exactly will it take to generate this information? Integral elements of the connected neighborhood will include a fiber loop, along with rooftop satellites, wireless responders and two-way radio communications services. The vast urban analytics network will cover more than 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space associated with five state-of-the-art office towers as well as 14 acres of public open space. 

"We can't even begin to conceive all the applications that this data might be used for," said Charlotte Matthews, vice president of sustainability for Related Companies.

But five areas will be an initial focus:

  • Measuring, modeling and prediction pedestrian flows to help with traffic and transit systems
  • Keeping tabs on air quality both inside and outside
  • Monitoring health and activity levels of residents and workers who inhabit the office space through an opt-in mobile app
  • Benchmarking solid waste recovering and recycling processes, including organic waste management (the community will include a vacuum tube system that accommodates organics, recyclables and trash)
  • Modeling energy product and usage of the on-site cogeneration plant and microgrid

"The Quantified Community will create a unique experimental environment that provides a testing ground for new physical and informatics technologies and analytics capabilities, which will allow for unprecedented studies in urban engineering, urban systems operation and planning, and the social sciences," said Constantine Kontokosta, deputy director of the Quantified Community initiative at NYU CUSP, describing the project.

Hudson Yards retail visualization by VH via Hudson Yards.Sustainable urban development is a priority focus for Related Companies Chairman and founder Stephen Ross, who in late May pledged to donate a whopping $30.5 million to the World Resources Institute for the creation of a new center dedicated to sustainable approaches in urban planning, sustainable transport, energy and climate change, water resources and governance.

"Cities are the major drivers of economic growth, and should also offer a higher quality of life and healthier environments," said Ross in a statement.

"WRI has proven that it can translate global ideas into tangible practices and catalyze sustainable solutions in developing countries through a network of on-the-ground practitioners, global expertise and partnerships, and credible research. I am thrilled to be able to make such an impactful contribution that will build on WRI’s work and I am confident that together we will be able to help usher in an era of more vibrant cities and better transport around the globe.”

Top image of people and data by jokerpro via Shutterstock.