December 2008 Newsletter

Dear Friends of CITRIS,

In this newsletter we are pleased to highlight two exciting projects that each address pressing needs for California and exemplify the CITRIS commitment to developing intelligent infrastructures.

The first project, called Mobile Millennium, aims to alleviate a chronic problem we can all relate to: traffic congestion, especially on our overcrowded freeways. UC Berkeley Engineering Professor Alex Bayen and his colleagues have developed a productive strategic alliance with Nokia in an effort that employs ordinary GPS-enabled cell phones to assemble extraordinarily useful traffic information.

The concept’s power was demonstrated earlier this year when a fleet of cars driven by our wonderful volunteer graduate students, each carrying a cell phone, was able, using Professor Bayen’s mathematical techniques, to reveal traffic patterns, potential roadblocks, and alternative commuting itineraries. Last month the project entered a pilot phase in which anyone can download free software to their phones and contribute data in exchange for an increasingly vital, map-based application that will help them navigate through Bay Area traffic as quickly as possible.

Our second story profiles another project of great importance to Californians. Sometime in our tectonically volatile state’s not-too-distant future, search-and-rescue workers will risk their own lives by entering earthquake-damaged buildings in search of victims. The fruits of UC Merced Professor Stefano Carpin’s robotic search-and-rescue project will help them decide which buildings to enter first, how best to approach them, and what to expect inside. These key bits of knowledge will allow emergency first-responders to get to the victims as quickly and safely as possible.

Finally, as days shorten and the holiday season unfolds, I wish everybody in the CITRIS extended family warm greetings. I hope to see many of you at our CITRIS Holiday Gala event on December 12 at 4:00 p.m. And, before we know it, on February 27, 2009, the grand opening of the CITRIS building, Sutardja Dai Hall, will take place on the Berkeley campus. Please follow this URL and register for the Grand Opening celebration: We look forward to seeing many of our friends from the Bay Area and beyond at this landmark event.

Keep up the good work.

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

Presentations from TIER workshop
Presentations are now online from the recent TIER workshop, which spotlighted research dedicated to understanding the role of and developing innovative information and communications technologies for developing regions.


CITRIS talks are on YouTube

Our many talks are available at our popular YouTube channel:


Berkeley Big Ideas Marketplace
The Big Ideas @ Berkeley marketplace allows individual to support undergraduate and graduate students who are passionate about tackling major global, regional, and local challenges such as clean energy, the environment, public health, safe drinking water, public policy, and technology-based entrepreneurship.

CITRIS Holiday Gala, December 12
Please join us for our annual holiday gala on the Berkeley campus, featuring refreshments and live entertainment on Friday, December 12 at 4:00pm in the Gordon and Betty Moore Lobby, Hearst Memorial Mining Building, UC Berkeley. At 6:15 p.m., members of Berkeley's Media Theater Workshop will stage three short plays, "Best E-mails Ever," “Little Red Flag,” and "Missed Connections," that combine video projection with live performance.

CITRIS Headquarters Dedication, Feb. 27, 2009
On Feb. 27, 2009, CITRIS will mark the official opening of its new headquarters, Sutardja Dai Hall, with a day of talks and celebration.