April 2009 Newsletter

CITRIS "shortens the pipeline" between world-class laboratory research in science and engineering and the creation of startups, companies, and whole industries. By engaging business, economics, law, and public policy at the outset of projects, we accelerate and amplify the impact of research that addresses California's most pressing challenges.

Dear Friends of CITRIS,

I am very excited about the subjects covered in this newsletter since they each demonstrate how CITRIS can be the IT juice for California’s economic recovery. The first story, about programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs), illustrates our potential to save billions of dollars for Californians while making the state cleaner, safer, and more livable. When our friends from the California Institute for Energy and Environment asked for CITRIS’s help designing a thermostat that would avert future rolling blackouts and the sky-high energy bills and emissions that result from those few hot days when the state’s grid is strained, we knew the project would be a good fit. UC Berkeley engineering professor David Auslander and his colleagues came up with an inexpensive and simple design that will nonetheless have a profound impact. And because the design reference is public and downloadable, it is already stimulating business in the state by, to quote our own mission statement, “shortening the pipeline” between research and the business of making great products.

Our second story also illustrates how CITRIS’s ability to assemble unique combinations of expertise can help government as well as industry to navigate through choppy waters. When the City of San Francisco undertook a Community Safety Camera (CSC) project, it underestimated how complicated and controversial it would be. The project was driven by a strong and straightforward desire to reduce violent crime in some of the cities toughest neighborhoods, but without compromising citizen privacy. The technical experts, lawyers, information specialists, and statisticians assembled by CITRIS to evaluate the project were able to tease apart these strains, analyze the program objectively, and construct recommendations that will allow the City to make reasonable, data-driven decisions about whether to continue, expand, or abandon the project.

Finally, all of us here at CITRIS extend a big thank you to the hundreds of you who helped us celebrate the ribbon cutting on Sutardja Dai Hall, our new headquarters and research building on the Berkeley campus, and the Marvell Nanofabrication Lab that is the jewel in its crown. We are still moving in, and our labs will not be fully occupied until summer, but we hope you will come visit. A lot of important things are happening here.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Paul K. Wright
Director, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society

CSE in Cloud: Computational Science and Engineering will use Yahoo!’s cloud computing cluster to conduct large-scale research
Yahoo! recently announced that it has expanded its partnerships with top U.S. universities to advance cloud computing research. The University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will join Carnegie Mellon University in using Yahoo!’s cloud computing cluster to conduct large-scale systems software research and explore new applications that analyze Internet-scale data sets, ranging from voting records to online news sources.

Big Ideas Poster Session on April 29 at 3:00 p.m.

Come learn about innovative ideas for using IT in the interest of society. We will hold a poster session with the top entries in this year's Big Idea competition, followed by the award ceremony for the judged winners. This event is free, open to the public and refreshments will be served. The top posters will be announced by Tuesday, April 21.

Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy Awarded 2009 Benjamin Franklin Medal
Professor and CITRIS Director Emeritus Ruzena Bajcsy was recently awarded the Franklin Institute's 2009 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science. Prof. Bajcsy received the award for contributions to robotics and computer vision, specifically the development of active perception and the creation of methods to improve our understanding of medical images.

Research Exchange and Open Innovation speaker series continue
The popular semester seminar series will both continue through May. To learn more about the Research Exchanges and watch previous lectures, please visit: http://www.citris-uc.org/events/RE-spring2009. More information about the Open Innovation Series can be found at http://openinnovation.haas.berkeley.edu/speaker_series/index.html.

CITRIS Headquarters Building Dedication Photos
The CITRIS headquarters building was dedicated on February 27, 2009. The newest research facility on the UC Berkeley campus, Sutardja Dai Hall is now the new home of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute@CITRIS Berkeley. These photos and videos highlight the day’s festivities.