An Early Warning Monitoring System for Undesirable Neighborhood Change in Buffalo

photo of downtown buffalo, new york.

Students will help build an Early Warning Monitoring System that could help alert scholars, community members, and government officials to locations within Buffalo, NY, where undesirable changes may occur in the near future.

Project description

A draft report entitled "Buffalo, Turning the Corner" was recently put out by members of the University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies. As part of a broader national effort, the report set forth a detailed description of processes relating to undesirable change in seven census tracts spread through several neighborhoods within the city of Buffalo. Part of the report is devoted to a detailed description of a potential “Early Warning Monitoring System” that could help to alert scholars, community members, and government officials to locations within the city where undesirable changes may occur in the near future.

The goal of the proposed project is to build such a system. Currently, under the direction of Prof. Alan Hunt and Prof. Kenneth Joseph, four undergraduate students are collecting and beginning to analyze the requisite data to construct this system. The plan for the coming semesters is to then a) build a prototype system for early warning monitoring, b) present this system to members of the UB Center for Urban Studies and/or officials at the city of Buffalo for feedback, c) to iteratively improve the system and d) to eventually use the system in practice to assist scholars and city officials to identify potential undesirable neighborhood change within the city before it begins. As the project continues, Prof. Hunt will be primarily responsible for helping students to understand how to build systems that are usable and can be understood by practitioners, and will help students to understand how to interface with project partners. Prof. Joseph will primarily be responsible for helping students to understand and leverage data science approaches that underlie the early warning system. We anticipate that eventually, there will be opportunities for interdisciplinary work for students from outside of the CSE department as well.

Project outcome

Participating students will produce an analytics algorithm that examines housing data over time and attempts to predict areas in which gentrification is occurring or has occurred.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment This project can be done in stages, with members coming and going over its lifespan. It will be a longer project, but needn't be complete to show progress or results.
Start time Anytime
Level of collaboration Large Group Collaboration
Benefits Academic Credit
Who is eligible Undergraduate students interested in studying technology, journalism, or digital media
Truman Scholarship

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Truman Scholarship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Core partners

  • City of Buffalo

Project mentor

Alan Hunt

Professor of Practice

Computer Science and Engineering

354 Davis Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3184


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 
Fulfilling Academic Major/Minor Requirements

If you are planning to use this project to satisfy program requirements for your academic major or minor, it is your responsibility to obtain approval from your academic department prior to beginning the project. 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Familiarize yourself with the Buffalo Open Data Portal, the housing data set, and the tools available for analysis of the data