The Public Informatics Student Group (PISG) creates exploration within the student body by applying and using information, computing technology, and data in the contexts of public service and the urban environment.
The concept of informatics was discussed as early as the 1960’s, with its first mention in the United States occurring in 1972. In the 1980’s informatics entered the wider American lexicon through researchers in the fields of medicine and public health. Forward thinking leaders in these fields realized that reams of paper and pages of handwritten notes no longer sufficed as effective ways of storing, retrieving, and analyzing the ever increasing amount of data from their studies.
Tech culture writer Howard Rheingold may have been the first person to use the term “Urban Informatics” in 2003 in his blog The Feature. In it he imagines a world where city leaders may access and use data generated by the people and city around them. Wider adoption of the urban informatics occurred slowly, but gained traction in the fields of public policy, administration and planning around late 2000’s. In 2013, Anthony Townsend, a graduate of the Bloustein School, published Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. Chronicling the trends of “Smart Cities” from Songdo to New York City, his book opened the doors to many more conversations around the future of data in urban spaces.
In 2019 the Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University announced that it would begin a Masters Degree in Public Informatics. Offering professional student cohorts a curriculum in statistics, programming, data management, data analytics, visualization, spatial analysis, graduates of the program will bring a critical voice and a deep understanding of context to an emerging field. The future of Public Informatics is expected to include opportunities in a range of fields spanning from traditional policy and planning roles, to new government agencies focused on data analysis and city technology.
Supporting this cohort’s interest in the theory and application of public informatics is the Public Informatics Student Group, created in 2019 by students at the Bloustein School. More than just a student interest group, this organization looks to be a catalyst for student leadership and engagement on par with similar organizations at other world-class universities. As an interdisciplinary organization, the Public Informatics Student Group welcomes students from School of Communication and Information, Graduate School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Management and Labor Relations, School of Social Work, School of Public Health, and others in order to leverage the unique experiences necessary to understand and shape the future of information technology in the public sector.
For more information or to contact the student group please visit their external website.