The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute create information technology solutions for society’s most pressing challenges.
CITRIS and the Banatao Institute leverage the research strengths of University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Merced and Santa Cruz, and operate within the greater ecosystem of the University and the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley. The institute was created by the California state legislature to shorten the pipeline between world-class laboratory research and the development of applications, platforms, companies, and even new industries. CITRIS and the Banatao Institute facilitate interdisciplinary work among hundreds of University of California faculty members, students, corporate partners, and international institutions. Together with these public and private partners, we are shaping the future of technology in ways that cross traditional boundaries.
Online civic engagement platforms accessed via desktops or mobile devices can provide new opportunities for the public to express views and insights, consider the views of others, assist in identifying innovative ideas and new approaches to public policy issues, and directly engage with elected leaders. Existing platforms vary widely in their approaches to: assessment, engagement, ideation, evaluation, and deliberation. We consider three online platforms: the Living Voters Guide, including its earlier iterations Consider.it and Reflect; the Open Town Hall; and the California Report Card. We compare them using the International Association of Public Participation’s “Spectrum of Public Participation” framework. Using a 10-point scale, we evaluate the user interface of each platform in terms of how well it supports the Spectrum’s levels of civic engagement (inform, consult, involve, collaborate, and empower). Results suggest how user interface design affects civic engagement and suggest opportunities for future work
Almost an Expert: The Effects of Rubrics and Expertise on Perceived Value of Crowdsourced Design Critiques
Expert feedback is valuable but hard to obtain for many de- signers. Online crowds can provide a source of fast and affordable feedback, but workers may lack relevant domain knowledge and experience. Can expert rubrics address this issue and help novices provide expert-level feedback? To evaluate this, we conducted an experiment with a 2x2 facto- rial design. Student designers received feedback on a visual design artifact from both experts and novices, who produced feedback using either an expert rubric or no rubric. We found that rubrics helped novice workers provide feedback that was rated just as valuable as expert feedback. A follow-up analy- sis on writing style showed that student designers found feed- back most helpful when it was emotionally positive and spe- cific, and that providing a rubric increased the occurrence of these characteristics in feedback. The analysis also found that expertise correlated with longer critiques, but not the other fa- vorable characteristics. An informal evaluation indicates that experts may instead have produced value by providing clearer justifications.
This research investigates how to introduce synchronous interactive peer learning into an online setting appropriate both for crowdworkers (learning new tasks) and students in massive online courses (learning course material). We present an interaction framework in which groups of learners are formed on demand and then proceed through a sequence of activities that include synchronous group discussion about learner-generated responses. Via controlled experiments with crowdworkers, we show that discussing challenging problems leads to better outcomes than working individually, and incentivizing people to help one another yields still better results. We then show that providing amini-lesson in which workers consider the principles underlying the tested concept and justify their answers leads to further improvements. Combining the mini-lesson with the discussion of the multiple-choice question leads to significant improvements on that question. We also find positive subjective responses to the peer interactions, suggesting that discussions can improve morale in remote work or learning settings.
Modern society relies heavily upon complex and widespread electric grids. In recent years, advanced sensors, intelligent automation, communication networks, and information technologies (IT) have been integrated into the electric grid to enhance its performance and efficiency. Integrating these new technologies has resulted in more interconnections and interdependencies between the physical and cyber components of the grid. Natural disasters and man-made perturbations have begun to threaten grid integrity more often. Urban infrastructure networks are highly reliant on the electric grid and consequently, the vulnerability of infrastructure networks to electric grid outages is becoming a major global concern. In order to minimize the economic, social, and political impacts of large-scale power system outages, the grid must be resilient in addition of being robust and reliable. The concept of a power system’s cyber-physical resilience centers around maintaining critical functionality of the system backbone in the presence of unexpected extreme disturbances. Resilience is a multidimensional property of the electric grid; it requires managing disturbances originating from physical component failures, cyber component malfunctions, and human attacks. In the electric grid community, there is not a clear and universally accepted definition of cyber-physical resilience. This paper focuses on the definition of resilience for the electric grid and reviews key concepts related to system resilience. This paper aims to advance the field not only by adding cyber-physical resilience concepts to power systems vocabulary, but also by proposing a new way of thinking about grid operation with unexpected extreme disturbances and hazards and leveraging distributed energy resources. The concepts of service availability and quality are not new, but many recognize the need of resilience in maintaining essential services to critical loads, for example to allow home refrigerators to operate for food conservation in the aftermath of a hurricane landfall. By providing a comprehensive definition of power system resilience, this paper paves the way for creating appropriate and effective resilience standards and metrics.
We report on an experimental case study of personalized lighting controls built on top of an infrastructure designed to enable rapid development of applications in commercial buildings. Our personalized lighting controls (PLC) use an existing standard commercial building lighting automation system and require no new hardware to deploy. PLC presents occupants with a "shared virtual light switch" accessible online and easily viewable on smart phones by scanning a QR code. It embodies three important design principles: individual empowerment with localized human-centered resolution, token effort for energy consumption and return to a low-power state when inactive. After deploying our lighting controls on two new floors of a large research building on campus, we show a sustainable reduction in lighting energy of 50% to 70% on both floors over 12 weeks, continuing to this day. These savings are found to come from a combination of reducing brightness and keeping lights on less often, especially during evenings and weekends.
In this work we address the problem of static state estimation (SE) in distribution grids by leveraging historical meter data (pseudo-measurements) with real-time measurements from synchrophasors (PMU data). We present a Bayesian linear estimator based on a linear approximation of the power flow equations for distribution networks, which is computationally more efficient than standard nonlinear weighted least squares (WLS) estimators. We show via numerical simulations that the proposed strategy performs similarly to the standard WLS estimator on a small distribution network. A key advantage of the proposed approach is that it provides explicit off-line computation of the estimation error confidence intervals, which we use to explore the tradeoffs between number of PMUs, PMU placement and measurement uncertainty. Since the estimation error in distribution systems tends to be dominated by uncertainty in loads and scarcity of instrumented nodes, the linearized method along with the use of high-precision PMUs may be a suitable way to facilitate on-line state estimation where it was previously impractical.