For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas; in just a few more decades, the world's population will exceed 9 billion, 70 percent of whom will live in cities. Enabling those cities to deliver services effectively, efficiently, and sustainably while keeping their citizens safe, healthy, prosperous, and well-informed will be among the most important undertakings in this century. I will review how we have established a center for urban science with a focus on bringing informatics to the study and operation of urban systems. I will touch on the rational, the structure, and the substance of the Center’s work and the ways in which it will enrich NYC and contribute to global issues. Taxis, lights, phones, and buildings will all enter into the discussion in novel ways.