Ziqian Cecilia Dong, New York Institute of Technology – Cities and the Environment

On New York Institute of Technology Week: Cities need to prepare for the challenges of the future.

Ziqian Dong, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, discusses how best to manage resources in the face of disaster.

Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New York Institute of Technology. Her research interests include high-performance packet switches, data center networks, network security and forensics, wireless sensor networks, and assistive medical devices. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Motorola, National Collegiate Alliance for Inventors and Innovators, Xilinx, and NYIT.

Dong engages undergraduate and graduate students in her research projects and frequently publishes with them. She is the principal investigator for the NYIT Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site, funded by NSF to engage undergraduates in mobile device and network security research. She also serves as faculty mentor for NYIT’s student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

Cities and the Environment


Cities worldwide are growing, and new environmental conditions challenge their capacity to provide food, energy, and water in a sustainable and economically productive way. Ongoing sea level rise endangers urban infrastructure such as roads, subways, power plants, wastewater treatment plants, and oil refineries, even when the weather is calm. And storms are becoming more frequent and more powerful.

As governments, utilities, and other stakeholders decide how to best prepare for this future, they need to be able to understand, quantify, and visualize impacts of their possible choices before they have to commit.

To fill this need, I’m leading a team of researchers who, together with partners in the U.S., Germany, and Austria, are creating a tool to help stakeholders in cities worldwide simulate and see the consequences of various preemptive steps. The project, called IN-SOURCE, aims to build a data visualization framework that targets infrastructure investment toward the objective of carbon neutral and sustainable cities, with decentralized and autonomous supplies of food, energy, and water.

In 2012, New York City faced a damaging “superstorm” called Sandy, and now the city gathers data from many types of infrastructure critical to food, energy, and water distribution. Our team will use these data so that our framework can help this city, and others like it, manage limited resources to prevent foreseeable disasters.
Better infrastructure investments mean that, at a future extreme weather event, we will have fewer mandatory evacuations, fewer people stranded in upper floors of tall buildings, fewer cars waiting in lines at gas stations, and a safer, more reliable supply of water and food.