Computer Science

Strategic Vision

Trusted Cities, Technology for the People

It is now possible to collect, process, and apply data at an unprecedented scale to solve significant societal problems. While applying computing to improve the overall well-being of people and the cities they live in is desirable, there are also significant concerns:

  • Concern about fairness, equity, transparency, and accuracy when using collected data for automated decision making that impacts people
  • Concern about the security and resilience of the cyber-infrastructure used to collect, transmit, store and manipulate city data as well as the privacy of the individuals in them

The Department of Computer Science at Portland State University, with its collaborations across campus centers and with its relationships with local and regional agencies, is well positioned to address these concerns through a concerted effort that exploits its current strengths in data science, machine learning, cyber-security, and high-assurance systems. To this end, we envision Trusted Cities, Technology for the People, an effort that supports transparent, equitable, and reliable computing that improves the health of people and the cities that they live in. Key to our effort is ensuring that the computing infrastructure being developed and deployed is resilient against attack and disaster, maintains the privacy of its citizens, and equally benefits everyone. Further, innovations in technology needs to be human-centered and socially aware, aiding and computing aid in the health, safety, prosperity, and equitable treatment of its inhabitants.

To address this problem, foundational components such as security through construction and cybersecurity are needed to ensure that systems are not vulnerable and that they are dependable and trustworthy under extreme circumstances. In addition, to have confidence in deployed systems, the population needs to not only trust the privacy and accuracy of data being gathered but also trust the process of collecting and using the data to derive actions that can potentially impact them. Towards this end, data science and machine learning expertise will ensure that the underlying technologies work as intended, do not treat population segments unequally due to bias within the data itself or within its analysis, and provides a measurable benefit to people.

To support this effort, the Department of Computer Science is undertaking multiple educational programs including innovative curricula for cultivating deep disciplinary knowledge and skills, educational outreach that foster participations from underrepresented groups, programs for increasing economic mobility of students, and service learning activities to ensure all of our citizens are well informed on safety, security, and privacy issues being faced.