The Center hosts conferences, workshops, seminars and cultural events, connecting leaders from government, business and civil society to address economic growth and market change in the Pacific region. These stories represent a small portion of the work happening on campus each day.
Big Pixel Initiative Researchers at University of California San Diego’s Big Pixel Initiative are using unique tools to map urban areas around the globe, potentially revolutionizing large-scale analysis of urbanization. Using Google Earth Engine, they developed and tested new machine-learning approaches that use high-resolution satellite data to detect and map settlements around the world.
These methods, detailed in the paper “Detecting the Boundaries of Urban Areas in India: A Dataset for Pixel-Based Image Classification from Google Earth Engine,” will eventually allow for the creation of a high-resolution map of all inhabited locations and for a better understanding of how cities expand and evolve. They provide, for the first time, a reliable and comprehensive open-source data for detecting and mapping urban areas through satellite images. Read more
As part of the San Diego Global Forum, PLF Antonio Ortiz-Mena listed 10 lessons we can use from NAFTA in implementing the TPP
By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
On the heels of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signing in February 2016, the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) fittingly welcomed Antonio Ortiz-Mena for a lesson—10 lessons, in fact—on what countries can learn from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in implementing the TPP.
Ortiz-Mena, a senior advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), began his career in the Mexican government, where he held multiple senior advisory roles in the NAFTA Negotiation Office of the Ministry of Trade and Industrial Development, the Budget and Programming Ministry and the Ministry of Fisheries. Prior to joining ASG, he served for more than eight years as the head of economic affairs at the Embassy of Mexico in the U.S. He earned his Ph.D. from UC San Diego and has taught as a professor of international affairs at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Economics.
During his Pacific Leadership Fellowship (PLF) at GPS’s Center on Global Transformation, Ortiz-Mena presented "What does NAFTA have to teach us about the TPP?" at the School’s second San Diego Global Forum on March 30 at DLA Piper. A collaboration between the School, World Trade Center San Diego and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.’s Go Global San Diego initiative, the forum facilitates open dialogue to unveil how San Diego is engaged in shaping solutions for a transforming and interconnected world.
Here are his 10 takeaways.
1. Use organization of negotiation for ratification and implementation
There was “good” coordination during NAFTA’s negotiation, “great” coordination during its ratification, but governments and key stakeholders “dropped the ball” on implementation and did not take full advantage of the agreement, Ortiz-Mena recollected.
He noted Congress(es) also gave little thought to complementing legislation that would bring forth additional initiatives to make better use of the agreement, particularly on infrastructure.
“CEO buy-in,” he said, is crucial for implementation. “Not a lot gets done unless the CEOs of powerful corporations put their weight behind initiatives.”
2. Do not oversell or undersell the agreement
Bluntly, Ortiz-Mena said Mexico did oversell NAFTA, ensuring the agreement would generate jobs, reduce undocumented migration and create growth.
“To be frank, most international economists are still debating these issues,” he said. “They agree that international trade fosters a more efficient use and allocation of factors of production, but there are so many factors affecting employment, GDP growth and migration—including demographics, technological change, fiscal and monetary policies, end exogenous shocks, among others—and it is difficult to disentangle complex causality.”
On underselling, there were “things we didn’t underscore that we should have underscored.” He said Mexico did not emphasize enough how small and medium enterprises could gain from the agreement from participating in the supply chains of large corporations, without the need to export directly. Likewise, attaining a defense against unilateral actions by the U.S. by having recourse to a NAFTA Chapter 19 panel on unfair trade practices was a big gain, as were rules of origin that fostered local sourcing.
3. Ensure clarity of aims and maintain a holistic vision
“It’s important to have a small, clear and coherent narrative about what the agreement is about and how it fits together with the overall government strategy,” Ortiz-Mena said. “Avoid equating a trade agreement with the government’s overall development strategy and foreign policy. It is merely a specific instrument to foster trade and investment, no more and no less.”
Using as example how American Express promotes its members as having “privileges,” Ortiz-Mena encouraged countries to consider whether they want to be a part of the TPP “club” because of the benefits or because it’s a defensive strategy, essentially avoiding the cost of not being a member while other major players in international trade are.
4. Exclusions: Make tradeoffs against defensive aims
Exclusions are part of the defensive aims of trade negotiations, Ortiz-Mena explained. In the case of Mexico, the government decided to exclude its hydrocarbon sector in NAFTA for political reasons. “How did we manage that? We made a tradeoff of a defensive aim against a defensive aim of the U.S. (migration),” he said, noting, of course, the U.S. rebutted and negotiations continued.
“Everyone needs to make tradeoffs in a negotiations, but it is best to make defensive tradeoffs against a defensive aim of the counterpart and not one of your offensive (market access) aims.”
5. Focus on permanent rules, not on temporary ones
Temporary rules such as tariff reduction rates are “very attractive for politicians, the press and pundits because it’s easy to keep score,” Ortiz-Mena said, clarifying that tariffs usually are negotiated by how many years it takes them to go down to zero.
“But trade does not work like that,” he said. “At the end of the day, everyone will be at zero and it is the permanent rules that will remain.”
Permanent rules are “unattractive” for punditry because they’re “super complex and super boring,” Ortiz-Mena said, but these rules are critically important. For instance, rules of origin specify what goods can receive preferential duty treatment. Commitments on norms and standards, and regulatory cooperation also fall in this category.
6. Beware of long-term tariff reductions
Opposing John Maynard Keynes, who famously said, “In the long run we are all dead,” Ortiz-Mena amended the economist to comment on trade negotiations: “In the long-term, you will not be dead. You will be in trouble.”
He warned countries to be careful of long-term tariff reductions of 10 years or, exceptionally, 15 years. “What items are left for tariff liberalization at 10 or 15 years? The most sensitive products,” he explained. “A lot of people equate 15 years with never, so they do nothing to protect those sensitive sectors. The long time allotted is a double-edged sword”
7. Beware of ‘clarifications’ and ‘fixes’
Quoting the late baseball star Peter "Yogi" Berra’s “It ain't over till it's over,” Ortiz-Mena delved into where the TPP is right now—with several interest groups asking for clarifications, or fixes, even though the agreement has been initialized.
In the case of Mexico and NAFTA, he explained, there was a “clarification” over sugar, allegedly to clarify the scope and coverage of NAFTA commitments on market access for sugar, with an exchange of letters between U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and Mexican Trade Minister Jaime Serra.
“One of the toughest fights at the embassy over the past few years was sugar,” he said. “Clarifications are not sugar-coated.”
8. Implement measures to maximize benefits of the agreement
Disagreeing with the Rolling Stones song “Time is on my side,” Ortiz-Mena said: “Trade agreements are inert. If you don’t do anything with them, they are just a pile of papers.”
He added that for NAFTA, no government or business leaders dared to establish quantifiable goals. “It’s important to have government, academia and business discuss where they think the agreement presents opportunities for a county and to see how they think they can take advantage,” he said. “If you establish some overall goals, it will help focus energies and coordination.”
In addition, to take full advantage of agreements they must be complemented with domestic policies to bolster trade, from radically cutting red tape to bolstering trade-related infrastructure. These measures will be essential to help SMEs participate in international trade, he said.
9. Acknowledge costs of the agreement and address them
“Trade agreements have winners and losers, especially in the short term,” Ortiz-Mena said. “In the medium and long term, everyone should be better off. But those sectors that will be adversely affected have to be recognized.”
He used the U.S.’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) as an example. TAA provides support to workers displaced by international trade.
Ortiz-Mena also highlighted the needs to protect markets against unfair trade practices. He praised the U.S. and Mexico’s customs agencies cooperation as a successful example of preventing counterfeit and contraband in international trade. “That could be an example to follow and one potential area for cooperation from other TPP countries.”
He also noted the need to have domestic agencies in charge of assessing unfair trade practices (dumping and subsidies) that are up to the task in terms of human and financial resources and technical expertise.
10. Present the agreement in context and keep pedaling the bicycle
“Making the best use of an agreement is a permanent task, an ongoing challenge,” he said, adding countries always must think of infrastructure and trade volumes increase.
Referencing the Port of San Diego interacting with Ensenada and the new pedestrian crossing at the Tijuana airport, Ortiz-Mena touched on an area of “greatest potential” in trade agreements, particularly NAFTA.
“Our geography is our advantage, it’s not our problem,” he said. “I encourage you all to think of yourself as Tijuanans, San Diegans, to think and act regionally, and also as North Americans.”
A Q&A with the vice chairman at Kissinger Associates during his Pacific Leadership Fellowship
By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
On a Monday afternoon, Robert Hormats is scrolling through his iPad at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS). Sunrays stream through the window of his third-floor office, hitting his face. It’s a portrait unlike most of his workdays that are spent at Kissinger Associates Inc. in New York—at least on this day when it was cloudy and 39 degrees back in the Big Apple.
From Feb. 1-14, the vice chairman at Kissinger Associates traded offices to participate in the Center on Global Transformation’s Pacific Leadership Fellowship (PLF), including delivering a public talk on “Lifting Iranian Nuclear Sanctions: Opportunities and Risks for Iran and for Potential Investors.” For Hormats, however, the residency held a meaning greater than just imparting his wisdom to students and local community members on international trade, foreign investment in the U.S. and energy issues. It also made for a reunion of sorts, reconnecting with old friends of the School and returning to where he delivered the 21st Century China Program’s third annual Robert F. Ellsworth Memorial Lecture in 2015.
We connected with Hormats mid-stay to hear his impressions about the fellowship, including how it invoked some contemplation about his career.
What led to your return to GPS as a PLF?
RH: Everything seemed to align to do this. I’d been out here on numerous occasions to the School and friendly with members of the faculty for quite some time. GPS is a remarkable group of people. When I was out a little while ago to give the Ellsworth lecture, we had dinner one night with Peter (Cowhey, dean of GPS), Susan (Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program), Irwin and Joan Jacobs—who I’ve known for years—and others. Irwin said: ‘GPS has this new program. You should do this.’ It had all the right elements—intellectual activity, bright professors and students, getting to know the business community and region better and having time to do a little thinking about some of the issues.
What’s been on the agenda during your stay?
RH: I’ve been meeting with students and a number of people in the business community. The dean had a dinner, Susan had a dinner, some other friends had dinners. I’m well fed (laughs). It’s a good way of renewing old friendships. That’s basically what I’ve been doing. There are a number of professors here I’ve known closely and some not as closely. I’m going to Georgia in a couple of weeks. I met with Assistant Professor Jesse Driscoll, and, as it turns out, he’s an expert on Georgia. Then Professor Barry Naughton is a guy I’ve known for years. We’re going to get together for dinner and discuss China’s international and domestic economic policy.
You studied international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and were formerly on the dean’s council at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Getting to know GPS more intimately, what sets it a part from other schools?
RH: There are two things, one of which is a focus on Asia. GPS is global, but it has some extremely high-quality, Asian-related expertise. I’ve enjoyed that. I think that’s because we should be spending more time on Asia in general, academically. Second, it’s very quantitative. Students learn a lot of valuable quantitative skills, which is important. That’s something few schools have. I’ve also been impressed with the way it integrates itself with the San Diego community. People in the community respect the School and see it as a big asset for the region. Since there are a lot of companies in the area that are international—Qualcomm Inc. being one, Sempra Energy being another—they see the School as an important resource for recruiting high-quality talent and interacting with the professors.
Through all of your accomplishments—including serving as Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Environmental Affairs (2009-2013) and for 25 years as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International—can you pin down a proudest moment of your career?
RH: I think it’s interesting. My first job was working for Henry Kissinger as his sort of junior economic adviser just as I was getting out of graduate school. It was a big break. Life is never fully planned. Opportunities sometimes emerge, or not. This happened to emerge as a really good opportunity. I felt that was a positive part of my career in that it started out as way of working on things in the Middle East, playing an early role in normalization with China. Things that are significant pieces of history are what I’m proud of, as well as working with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state on such things as economic statecraft.
Do you have any parting career advice for students?
RH: The goal in your career is to find jobs you really enjoy doing, jobs you’re enthusiastic about. If you’re not enthusiastic about a job, you’re not going to do as well. My advice to people is pick something you find meaningful and you’re enthusiastic about, and don’t be afraid to assert your views. Frequently the thing you regret most is if you have had an idea and you’ve missed the opportunity to convey it. If you’re right, you can be helpful in a policy process. If you’re wrong, at least you’ve given people something to think about. The policy process doesn’t work if it’s a monolith. It needs different points of views, different perspectives. People with different backgrounds, educational experiences, lifestyles, etc., bring an added dimension of knowledge to the policy process. Use your intellect, your background and your perspectives in discussions. Don’t be hesitant to speak up when you have an idea.
Putting Google Earth Engine on the map at UC San Diego
Jan. 20, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer, GPS News
At the mere age of 15, Ran Goldblatt was making a testament to his love of maps. He stood by the fax machine two times a day.
“We didn’t have Internet yet, so I used to get faxes from an institution in Israel with synoptic maps twice a day,” he recalled. “I loved analyzing these maps and creating my own weather forecasts as a child.”
Needless to say, a career in geography was immanent, including the three degrees—a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.—that came with it.
Now, as a postdoctoral researcher at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), he’s no longer waiting for the murmurs of a fax to delve into his trade, but he integrates different spatial analysis techniques with advanced visualization methods to examine physical aspects of the world and data on larger scales. Read More
CGT’s inaugural 2015-2016 PLF lends GPS an inside glance at Abenomics and returns to Tokyo with a new point of view for business strategizing under it
By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
For Reiko Akiike, wrapping her head around Abenomics means more than staying informed.
Her understanding of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy regime directly affects how she steers the aspirations of some of Japan’s top CEOs and presidents she works with as a senior partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Tokyo.
Indisputably, she knows the economic policy inside and out to push her client companies to a new level of global competitiveness in their respective manufacturing, high tech and infrastructure industries.
Which is why the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s Center on Global Transformation (CGT) leaned on Akiike, as a Pacific Leadership Fellow (PLF), to share her perceptions and experience on Abenomics with students, scholars and the larger San Diego community during her October residency.
Having completed its ninth year, CGT now has hosted 72 PLFs from 19 different countries. The program brings leaders from around the globe to engage in dialogue, research and instruction. Fellows are scholars and policymakers who shape strategy in their own countries through government, the private sector and academia, and provide insights into how economic and political systems are evolving.
Amid imparting her wisdom on the university, Akiike said she found herself returning to Tokyo with an equally enriched point of view to apply to her job and daily life.
“San Diego is the perfect place to study business,” she said. “The university is kind of a sanctuary, looking very closed. However, UC San Diego is really open. I am quite inspired by that, by San Diego.”
As part of her residency, Akiike held a public talk Oct. 7, “Japanese Business Strategies under Abenomics,“ expanding on Japan’s changing economy, entrepreneurship and management as well as an overview of the three arrows fired under Abenomics: monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reform. CGT Director and Professor Ulrike Schaede served as the discussant.
In explaining how the policy aims to revive the Japanese economy by addressing macroeconomic challenges, Akiike drew from her personal experience at BCG. As a senior partner and managing director, she focuses on strategy development and implementation, post-merger integration, change management and business turnaround.
She also recounted her experience as a managing director at the Industrial Revitalization Corporation of Japan (IRCJ), a government-sponsored private equity fund tasked with revitalizing the Japanese economy by restructuring failing companies. While IRCJ only had a five-year lifespan, in that time Akiike successfully supported the turnarounds of multiple bus transportation companies.
To that end, on Abenomics, she gave special attention to the National Strategic Special Zone as one of the developments that should not be overlooked, particularly as the most promising model to achieve deregulation in Japan.
On changes in management, Akiike said she observes more managers willing to take risks. For example, large-scale mergers and acquisitions now are on this rise as a result of huge companies now buying huge companies with good performance.
She also called attention to the need for greater open innovation in Japan, similar to UC San Diego’s boundless relationships with local businesses and startups.
“In Japan, open innovation is rarely discussed,” she said. “What I saw here is an excellent model of it.”
It’s that as well as UC San Diego’s good use of “talent management” that Akiike hopes to impart on her client companies and “motivate people to use their knowledge or expertise to make the world a better place,” she said.
Joan and Irwin Jacobs give $4 million to rebrand EmPac to CGT
Through the director’s eyes, a look at what’s behind the rebranding of the research center
By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
Rebranding is abuzz at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), as the School’s Center on Emerging and Pacific Economies (EmPac) now is the Center on Global Transformation (CGT), thanks to a $4 million gift from founding supporters Joan and Irwin Jacobs.
In addition to a name change, the gift also made possible the creation of two new endowed chairs to support faculty at both GPS and the Jacobs School of Engineering, who will work in partnership with the Center, and two new endowed faculty fellowships designed to support junior professors pursuing research key to CGT’s vision and mission.
Here, we pose three questions to CGT Director and Professor Gordon Hanson for the full scope of the rebranding, plus what initiatives are in the pipeline under the new name.
1. What was the impetus for choosing the name “Center for Global Transformation,” and how does the meaning of this name differ from the previous, “Center on Emerging Pacific Economies?”
GH: We see CGT as embodying the missions of both GPS and UC San Diego. Our campus has deep expertise in developing technologies that transform the world, while our School has long been at the forefront of understanding economic and political developments on the global stage. CGT will help bring these two intellectual strengths together, thereby fortifying the role of GPS as the nexus where technology meets public policy.
2. Beyond this name change, in what ways has the Center evolved since its founding in 2006, and what advancements may we expect to see moving forward?
GH: When EmPac was founded, our goals were to connect a global network of thought leaders to GPS and UC San Diego and to fund innovative research that would allow GPS to ask questions about the global economy that no one else was asking.
Through the Pacific Leadership Fellows program, we accomplished our first goal. Our aim now is use this network, which we are continuing to expand, to find ways in which GPS and UC San Diego can help solve the global challenges that our fellows have helped us identify.
3. What are the flagship research initiatives the Center will pursue in its first year?
GH: The new research direction of CGT is embodied in three questions that are central to designing sound economic policy for a rapidly changing world.
First, at a moment in history in which the pace of change is ever quickening, how do we measure economic and social outcomes in real time? The old approach of pen and paper surveys, which propelled the creation of modern empirical social science in the 20th century, delivers results too slowly for the current environment. Moreover, traditional survey methods fail to reach the poorest and most conflict-ridden parts of the world where needs are most acute. CGT, working together with the Qualcomm Institute, will experiment with new methods of synthesizing data from mobile networks, social media and satellite imagery to design and evaluate effective public policies.
Second, how is the globalization of production changing the process of innovation? Modern production chains—whether in electronics, software or traditional manufacturing—spread operations across borders, with product design and testing occurring in one location, production of intermediate inputs in a second location, and product assembly and customer service in a third. In such an environment, the innovation ecosystem is truly global in nature. The success of the U.S. technology sector depends on the efficiency of buyers and suppliers in Mexico, China and other countries, and vice versa. In partnership with UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, CGT will prototype new organizational strategies for innovation in a globalized context.
Third, how do we reimagine regulatory frameworks for a world in which markets are fully integrated across borders? Today, the fate of companies in the U.S. often rests on regulatory decisions made by governments in other countries. The absence of coordination between governments can create policy conflicts that undermine the incentive to innovate. The Center, working in collaboration with scholars in China, India and other countries, will examine how industry regulation is evolving around the world and seek to create the foundation for the design of efficient regulatory approaches.
Fostering increased collaboration and innovation between Japan and San Diego, the University of California, San Diego has established the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology (JFIT). The new program, which will be housed in UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy (formerly School of International Relations and Pacific Studies), will serve as a hub for research on contemporary business, science and technology in Japan, as well as associated policies. The launch of the Japan Forum at UC San Diego was made possible by a $300,000 pledged gift from Japanese IT company, Broadband Tower, Inc.
“UC San Diego has long had strong connections with Japan, and this new forum will serve to strengthen those ties even further,” said Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of Global Policy and Strategy. “The Japan Forum will foster scholarly exchange and offer a system of open innovation and access between the San Diego region and Japan.”
UC San Diego is home to a sizable group of faculty and scholars with research interest in Japan. The new forum will provide a hub for cross-disciplinary research relating to Japan, in scholarly fields ranging from business to medical and biological sciences and engineering. In addition to pursuing research on business and technology in Japan, the new initiative is also designed to fuel new opportunities to connect companies and universities in Japan and San Diego.
“It is important for Japan to create new industry and academic relations in the fields of life sciences and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) with the United States,” said Dr. Hiroshi Fujiwara, president and founder of Broadband Tower, Inc. “San Diego’s prominence in these industries, which is in large part fueled by UC San Diego, makes this region a key partner for international collaboration.”
In addition to research, the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology at UC San Diego will also host conferences, industry roundtables and community networking events. The launch of the Japan Forum was announced by Fujiwara on May 18 as part of his keynote address entitled, “San Diego-Japan Innovation: Common Avenues in IoT and Biotech.” Fujiwara is currently serving as a Pacific Leadership Fellow at the School of Global Policy and Strategy’s Center for Global Transformation (formerly the Center on Emerging and Pacific Economies). The new forum then hosted its inaugural annual conference the following day, May 19, focused on “New Approaches for the Promotion of Innovation, Science and Technology: Bridging Japan and San Diego.” Industry leaders, scientists, faculty researchers and dignitaries from Japan and San Diego attended the one-day conference to discuss universities’ role in fostering entrepreneurship, science policy, commercialization in the biosciences and IoT industries and the current business climate in Japan.
Ulrike Schaede, professor of Japanese Business and executive director of the Center for Global Transformation, will serve as the founding director of the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology. “San Diego and Japan are among the world’s most active centers driving innovation and technological advancement,” said Schaede. “The Japan Forum will take the strong existing connections between Japan and San Diego, and expand on these synergies even further to create new opportunities for industry growth, collaboration and discovery.”
During his residency at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, Fujiwara will explore his vision of a new “Industry 4.0,” which includes new business models and opportunities arising from new technology such as 3D printing, as well as advances in biotech and wireless connectivity.
“I believe the first step toward the new digital world is the cross between biotech and IoT, such as advances in wireless health,” said Fujiwara. “My hope is for Japan to be an important player in these new industries, and that is why, with this gift to launch the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology, we have chosen San Diego and the School of Global Policy and Strategy to be the catalyst for this endeavor.”
The Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology will also serve as a nucleus for scholars, postdocs and students with an interest in Japan. Students at the School of Global Policy and Strategy earning their Master in International Affairs can graduate with a “Japan Focus.” As part of the specialization, students work with Schaede, as well as Professor Emeritus Ellis Krauss, who both conduct cutting-edge academic research on Japanese business, management and politics.
“The Japan Forum is an exciting new venture that will allow us to bring together the immense talent of scholars, researchers, business leaders and students who are interested in strengthening the bond between San Diego and Japan,” said Schaede. “We are creating a vibrant, open research and education environment that will benefit both regions.”
Recently, over 50 students – most of them graduate students – showed up for the day-long Big Pixel Hackathon to Discover the Planet in Atkinson Hall’s Calit2 Theater. The May 23 hackathon was organized by the Big Pixel Initiative (BPI) to showcase what can happen when you let students loose on the largest private collection of high-resolution satellite imagery on earth. Co-directors Gordon Hanson, a professor in the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), and Qualcomm Institute research scientist Albert Yu-Min Lin oversaw the event, with hands-on management by lead coordinator Jessica Block and postdoctoral researcher (and GIS expert) Ran Goldblatt, both based in the Qualcomm Institute. Read more.
The DigitalGlobe Foundation has selected the University of California, San Diego to be one of two institutions of higher learning given open access to DigitalGlobe Basemap, an online map and database of current, high-resolution satellite imagery – of the entire planet. For a one-year pilot study, commercial satellite imagery will be made available free of charge to selected UC San Diego faculty, students and staff who, until now, would not have been able to afford access to the planetary-scale data included in the DigitalGlobe Basemap.
“We were amazed at the amount of research going on at UC San Diego leveraging commercial satellite imagery, geospatial big data and predictive analytics,” said DigitalGlobe Foundation executive director Mark E. Brender. “The university’s Dr. Albert Lin is an early adopter of commercial satellite imagery and has hands-on experience with the use of imagery in exploration, so it was only natural that the DigitalGlobe Foundation would select his institution for the pilot program. Now the UC San Diego team will have the world at their fingertips.”
Satellite imagery has become an invaluable tool for applications such as mapping, environmental research, agriculture, national defense, energy exploration, disaster response, and human rights monitoring and enforcement. But unlike other tools, the DigitalGlobe Basemap allows researchers to process and compute on the Basemap data.
DigitalGlobe Basemap features millions of square kilometers of current and archived imagery captured by DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of earth-imaging satellites over the past 15 years, including imagery from WorldView-3, DigitalGlobe’s newest satellite that collects imagery with 30-cm ground resolution.
UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute and the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) have developed the Big Pixel Initiative to ensure that the campus makes maximum use of access to DigitalGlobe Basemap. The initiative was founded by IR/PS professor Gordon Hanson and the Qualcomm Institute’s Albert Lin and Jessica Block to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the DigitalGlobe Foundation.
With a hackathon and other activities in the works, this month the initiative will also begin awarding grants worth between $5,000 and $15,000 to faculty or students proposing the best proof-of-concept projects to demonstrate a novel use of the Basemap.
“Having access to the DigitalGlobe Basemap will allow researchers to ask questions and derive answers at a scale that is truly global,” said IR/PS and economics professor Gordon Hanson, who leads UC San Diego’s Center on Emerging and Pacific Economies, which is funding the mini-grant competition. “By combining geospatial data with state-of-the-art research in fields such as public health, economics and ecology, we should be able to glean insights that were not previously possible.”
Starting this month, proposals will be reviewed for funding on a continual basis during the 12-month course of the pilot program.
“We hope to demonstrate to DigitalGlobe Foundation the value of this campus as a partner in identifying and conducting research that utilizes imagery at scale to address questions of global importance,” added Lin, who jointly manages the Big Pixel Initiative with IR/PS’s Hanson. “This is an extremely powerful tool. For example, we can look at 100 cities of the same size and population density to figure out the factors that lead to a healthier urban engine. This would not have been within our reach without access to a comprehensive resource such as DigitalGlobe Basemap.”
DigitalGlobe Basemap is being provided by the DigitalGlobe Foundation, an academic-focused philanthropic organization supported by Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, Inc. (NYSE: DGI). The DigitalGlobe Foundation, through imagery donations from DigitalGlobe, awards grants of earth observation data and products at no cost to students and academic faculty to support qualified research and education projects.
The Big Pixel Initiative will also break new ground in geospatial data visualization, user experience interfaces, and design techniques for scientific discovery and decision-making. “The goal is to ensure that we innovate new ways of using satellite data – for example, by designing new methods for scalable satellite image ingestion, processing, and visualization,” said the Qualcomm Institute’s Lin. “New tools will improve computer vision, machine learning, geographic information systems, remote sensing, and crowd-sourcing.”
A team of geospatial scientists from the Big Pixel Initiative will also provide advisory support to faculty and students who see the value of using satellite imagery in their research, but may not yet be trained to take maximum advantage of the data coming from the DigitalGlobe Basemap. In addition to founders Albert Lin, Gordon Hanson and Jessica Block, the team includes staff researchers Deborah Forster, Marta Jankowska, and postdoctoral scholar Ran Goldblatt. The Big Pixel Initiative will also collaborate with experts in data visualization and data art, including Qualcomm Institute research scientist Lev Manovich, who also teaches at the City University of New York.
“I like being in action mode. It’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s challenging,” he said. “And it’s a bit of a relief, because I’m more of a doer than a talker.”While Dean Peter Cowhey is on his research sabbatical, professor Gordon Hanson has stepped up to take over as acting dean. And while Hanson has his hands full with his own ongoing research and faculty duties, he is overwhelmingly committed to this new role at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS).
Hanson is the Pacific Economic Cooperation Chair in International Economic Relations at UC San Diego, straddling both IR/PS and the Department of Economics. He is the director of the Center on Emerging and Pacific Studies (EmPac) and co-director of the Policy Design and Evaluation Lab (PDEL), among many other leadership roles.
Before his sabbatical started July 1, Cowhey called Hanson an “intellectual leader” among faculty, and in the same vein, Hanson is a leader for students and alumni as well. As acting dean, he will be the figurehead for incoming students.
“We want to communicate the vision of the school and help students understand their role,” he said about what he hopes to achieve this fall. “It’s important to help students understand the School as being a dynamic place. They should want that.”
The same is true for alumni. Hanson has been attending more events, including the June IR/PS alumni paella party, and frequently meets with the San Diego alumni club. He will also be hosting the upcoming IR/PS Open House and Summer Celebration Aug. 14.
Supporting the School’s identity
Another goal for his time as acting dean is to continually reinforce IR/PS’s identity as a place where faculty and students do cutting-edge research on what’s happening in the Pacific region. Hanson himself is excited about what lies ahead for the School, including a push to do policy-relevant research in the key fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, otherwise known as STEM.
“IR/PS will really be the nexus at UC San Diego for STEM and policy work,” he said. “A lot of what that involves is figuring out how you design, evaluate and implement affective policies, which is something we’re really good at.”
In the coming year, the School will be working with researchers and faculty at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jacobs School of Engineering and the Qualcomm Institute on new initiatives. A similar working relationship with researchers at the School of Medicine is also planned, and as a researcher at UC San Diego since 2001, Hanson is more than ready.
“One of the things we’ve been doing as a faculty over the last 15 years is bringing new methods to bear on how you figure out what works and what doesn’t in a very rigorous way — in the field — in countries all over the world,” he said.
Policy design is a key part of the School’s identity, including its curriculum. This strong STEM-based curriculum is not only shaped by each faculty’s research, but Hanson said helps form their lines of inquiry as well.
Straddling the borders
Regions play an important part of Hanson’s academic research, though he does not necessarily focus on China over Latin America when constructing his theories. It happens naturally, depending on the research itself.
“I have periods where I am more focused on international migration, and then periods where I’ve been more focused on international trade,” he said. “When it comes to migration, the United States-Mexico linkage is the largest migration flow in the world. When it comes to trade, China has become the engine of the global economy.”
Understanding how economies integrate, and then looking at exactly what that means for labor markets, has been the center of Hanson’s research for over 20 years. It is in borders, he said, where these issues truly play out.
“Borders are where you see contrasts, and as a consequence they’re very instructive,” he said, hinting at a double meaning. “If you look at our faculty, what a lot of us have in common is we like to ‘populate the borders’ in areas of inquiry. We straddle economics and political science. We straddle different sub-disciplines within our broader disciplines. We straddle thinking about methodology and region.”
Hanson’s current research will be ongoing, with two projects in particular that are related to IR/PS initiatives. The first is looking to understand how China’s growth has impacted the U.S. labor and manufacturing market, and the second is utilizing new, cutting-edge satellite imagery to study economic urbanization and industrialization.
“Instead of using information we get from surveys, which are expensive to collect and take a long time to collate, we extract information from images,” he said, emphasizing the importance of real-time data. “With satellite imagery, I can get stuff that’s hours old. It’s a very dynamic area.”
Research for the entire Pacific
EmPac will be starting its ninth year, and while the center will continue to connect global leaders through its Pacific Leadership Fellows program, Hanson said it will also continue to be an important avenue in supporting research on campus.
The 21st Century China Program came about, in part, through EmPac’s guidance, and PDEL came directly from the center’s efforts. At IR/PS, Hanson is dedicated to growing all research, encompassing the entire Pacific region.
“The 21st Century China Program has shown the ways in which we’re being innovative on what we’re doing in Asia, and that’s been a big focus the last couple of years,” he said. “This year, we’re going to be very much focusing on pushing the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies forward, trying to bring in new leadership and establish new programs, as well as hire new faculty.”
School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) professor Ulrike Schaede has found a unique way to share her extensive knowledge about business, industry and manufacturing in Japan: she’s started her own online column written in, naturally, Japanese.
Published by Nikkei Business — one of Japan’s leading business news sources — Schaede pursued the column at the request of several Japanese students here at UC San Diego. Calling Schaede’s analysis of ongoing changes in Japanese business “fresh and interesting,” the students encouraged her to reach a larger audience.
And the results have been nothing short of spectacular.
“The Tokyo subway story got 300,000 page views in just a few days and was the most widely read article on Nikkei Business Online for that entire week,” Schaede said, calling the entire experience tremendously rewarding. “I think I hit the jackpot with that topic.”
In addition to explaining why the Tokyo mass transit system is the best in the world — Schaede should know, she lived and commuted in Japan for over eight years and frequently returns to expand her research — she has also focused on the growing role of Japanese materials in the global supply chain, Japan’s position in electronic money transactions, the difficult changes in their current employment system and the country’s new role as a leader for the 21st century.
It is easy to see the links to Schaede’s academic research. As the executive director of the Center on Emerging and Pacific Economies, she is the go-to expert on Japanese business, focusing on Japan’s corporate strategy, business organization, management, financial markets and government-business relations. Her 2008 book “Choose and Focus: Japanese Business Strategies for the 21st Century” helps generate topic ideas, as does her current book project on the best companies in what she calls the “New Japan,” explaining what makes them so great.
Schaede’s positive view of Japanese business is infectious. Grounded in research, she views the transition out of the 20th century as a “strategic repositioning” of the entire business system, encouraged by several companies moving in the right direction. It’s these companies that she chooses to highlight.
The column’s reach extends beyond her thousands of readers and research, into the very business sector Schaede is writing about itself. The e-money column, for example, led to her being contacted directly by several of the industry’s main players: a Sony engineer who invented the technology in Japan, an engineer in charge of the payment system, a United States citizen who, now living in San Diego, sold the technology in Hong Kong, and a senior manager from Sony in charge of the failed U.S. launch.
“I now have a pretty good sense for the entire story,” she said, “and it has already developed into a paper. I have a long-standing interest in this topic, and because it is ongoing, it makes for a great case to teach ‘disruptive technologies’ in my strategy class at IR/PS.”
Paying attention to every detail, Schaede said although each column does require quite a bit of work, she finds the process — including reading and re-reading online comments — very useful. Even the time she inadvertently used the wrong Japanese character in an accompanying chart.
“The magazine got a lot of calls on that,” she said, “but I didn’t mind at all because that correction was helpful for me, too. You really had to read the thing very, very carefully to even spot the mistake. I was surprised.”
Ultimately, the comments serve as an extension to the column itself and provide insight into Schaede’s continuing research. It was one commenter, however, that summed it up nicely: “This column rocks.”
Search all of Schaede’s Nikkei Business columns at her landing page, published in Japanese, of course.
Invite a group of contemporary, Japanese-business scholars to dinner, and the list would be surprisingly very small. Extend that invite to Japan-focused political scientists or sociology experts, and it would still be an intimate affair. Yet one thing is for certain: School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) Professor Ulrike Schaede will always be at the center.
As the IR/PS professor of Japanese Business, leader of the International Management track for graduate students and, along with Professor Ellis Krauss, the leader of the Japan concentration at the School, Schaede’s influence is felt daily. Additionally, she serves as the executive director of the Center on Emerging and Pacific Economies (EmPac), and 2014 marks her 20th year at IR/PS.
Her main areas of research focus on Japan’s overall corporate strategy, including business organization, management, financial markets and government-to-business relations. Her 2008 book “Choose and Focus: Japanese Business Strategies for the 21st Century” explains the point in the early 2000s when Japan’s business architecture began to change. The book, which was developed in part through conversations she had with students at IR/PS, looks at what she calls a “new Japan,” a powerful tool in assessing the country’s role in the global economy.
“There is a new Japan that we actually don’t know, because most of us studied Japan 20 years ago,” she said. “I’m studying the companies that operate in that new Japan that are successful, profitable, powerful and important.”
As a follow up to “Choose and Focus,” Schaede is now in the latter stages of a new book that expands on her original research to examine Japanese businesses in the global supply chain.
“When you look at your cell phone and ask who makes the added value, then you’ll learn that 35 percent of it is made in Japan,” she said. “It’s about positioning Japan in a larger story about how and why Japanese companies are great. How are these companies different? What makes them so successful?”
Beyond IR/PS, Schaede continues to be a leader in Japan research and contributes to the overall academic discourse on the subject. She is on the editorial board of several Japanese-focused academic journals, and is an active member of the Academic Advisory Board at the German Institute for Japanese Studies.
She is also a former visiting scholar at the research institutes of Japan’s Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Development Bank of Japan; and the Bank of Japan, the equivalent to the United States Federal Reserve. And because of her connections and high profile within the global business community, Schaede is happy to host a very special EmPac Pacific Leadership Fellow.
Former Bank of Japan head Masaaki Shirakawa will be in residency Feb. 17 – 28, where he will meet with faculty, students and the greater UC San Diego community. He will also participate in an informal economic roundtable breakfast and give a public presentation on Feb. 20.
Shirakawa was perhaps the most stable face of the Japanese government for over five years, during a time of multiple prime ministers and changing leaders in the country. He is a member of the Group of 30 – a non-profit organization aiming to deepen the global understanding of international economic and financial issues – and was named one of the 50 most influential policy makers of 2011.
Schaede calls Shirakawa a good leader, “relentless and reliable” during his time in office at the Bank of Japan that spanned from 2008 to 2013, a key time during the global financial crisis.
“One way to assess how good a Federal Reserve chair or governor of a Central Bank is, is by asking, ‘What have they accomplished?’ Another way to asses them is, ‘What did not happen?’ There are a lot of things that could have gone bad during this time. None of them happened under Shirakawa’s watch,” she said.
When Schaede introduces Shirakawa at his public talk with EmPac Director Gordon Hanson on Feb. 20, this is most likely what she will convey. Examples of what did not happen stack up: Shirakawa sheltered the Japanese economy during the crisis – the economy slowed down, certainly, but banks did not fail – and was on the ground during the country’s own internal crises: the 2011 tsunami and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“The Bank of Japan did something wonderful that we were unable to do during Hurricane Katrina in the United States,” Schaede said. “Within a week, they delivered brand new, clean 100-dollar notes (10,000 Japanese Yen) to everybody in the prefecture so that people had money. Money is important. To have cash in your pocket is important.”
For EmPac, Pacific Fellow Leadership residencies occur throughout the academic year, welcoming leaders like Shirakawa to IR/PS for several weeks at a time. Shirakawa’s planned conversation-style event is unique, offering a way for the audience to be more involved in an open dialogue.
“This way, Gordon Hanson can look to the audience and guide the conversation to the hot topics,” Schaede said.
Registration for Shirakawa’s Feb. 20, 5 p.m. public talk is currently open, and the EmPac website includes additional information on his groundbreaking work.
Schaede’s research, academic history and current projects are posted on her IR/PS faculty page, and complete coverage of all PFL visits can be found on EmPac.