Dr. Torin Monahan, CURS 2014-15 Scholar-in-Residence

Torin Monahan

The Center for Urban & Regional Studies is pleased to announce that Dr. Torin Monahan from the Department of Communication Studies is our Scholar-in-Residence for 2014-15. Dr. Monahan will use this opportunity to develop a research proposal on smart cities, big data, and surveillance.

Dr. Monahan’s project will investigate the implications of big data and surveillance in the development of “smart cities” in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. From an urban managerial perspective, the term smart city connotes the systematic generation and capture of data for purposes of rational and sustainable management of cities. Smart cities entail the integration of extensive information management tools to oversee complex urban systems and the myriad flows within them. They typically draw upon distributed sensor networks, video surveillance, and predictive analytics to monitor dynamic relationships between everything from traffic, to sewage, to electricity usage. The intensive management of flows includes the monitoring of people as well, whether directly or indirectly. Thus, this orientation to cities necessitates forms of governance and surveillance, which deserve systematic study and analysis. Continue reading

CURS releases North Carolina’s Distressed Urban Tracts: A View of the State’s Economically Disadvantaged Communities

cover of distressed urban tracts report

This report examines poverty, unemployment, and per capita income at the U.S. Census tract level in North Carolina, updating a 2005 report. This deeper dive into the state’s most distressed areas using tract-level data reveals pockets of extreme distress in the state’s urban areas. Despite the prosperity of their surrounding communities, these urban tracts are even more distressed than their counterparts in rural counties.

Among the report’s findings:

  • 65 percent (106 of 162) of the state’s severely distressed census tracts are located in urban areas.
  • 20 of the 25 most distressed tracts in North Carolina are urban.
  • Per capita income in urban distressed tracts is $1,300 lower than in rural distressed tracts.
  • While urban counties have lower rates of poverty overall, urban distressed tracts experience poverty at a rate that is 10 percent greater than rural distressed tracts.

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