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UC IT, design professors team up to reduce waste in fashion industry

The worlds of information technology (IT) and fashion have merged to create solutions to decrease 92 tons of fashion waste that is accumulated each year.  Murat Ozer, a technology professor in the University of Cincinnati School of Information Technology, is no stranger to using data to create solutions to real-world problems. 

headshot of Professor Murat Ozer

Murat, a Professor within the School of Information Technology

Ozer, who holds a PhD, partnered with the Cincinnati Police Department and several other law enforcement units around the world to create an IT system that would identify "hot spots" of crime and areas of gang-related violence.

His technology has proven to be an effective and resourceful tool in law enforcement that enables law officials to implement strategies to decrease officer-involved shootings involving young people.

Because of the proven effectiveness of Murat's technology, he is now partnering with faculty within UC's DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art & Planning) to create environmental solutions within the fashion industry. 

According to NPR Reports, "the Environmental Protection Agency determined that 15.1 million tons of textile were generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded". And the fashion industry generates 4 percent of the world's waste each year, according to a 2018 Forbes story.

DAAP associate professors Brooke Brandewie, and Emily Verba Fischer partnered with Ozer to develop solutions that would be widespread in the fashion industry and ultimately reduce waste.

They believed Ozer's Predictive Analytics Software (PAS) could be manipulated to predict behaviors in areas that can lead to mass production and consumption. This will allow leaders within DAAP and beyond to make better choices that will sustain our environment and to smart-produce their materials.

We consume a lot and we are poisoning our world. We don't have any smart solutions to prevent this problem. My wife always asks me, 'What is going to happen to our children?'

Murat Ozer

Dr. Murat Ozer as a Police Officer in Turkey with another male

Dr. Murat Ozer as a Police Officer in Turkey

Ozer joined the police academy in 1996 in Ankara, Turkey, where he studied police science and criminal justice. Upon completion of the academy, he became a police sergeant, and was responsible for preparing reports that evaluated threats of terrorism.

It was there where Ozer designed PAS, which could track more than 40,000 individuals engaged in possible terrorist activities.

When Murat came to the U.S. in 2006 to pursue a PhD. in criminal justice, he partnered with the Cincinnati Police Department to use the same database system that he created in Turkey. The goal: to pursue and detect crime in the Cincinnati area, particularly in the city's Uptown district.

"I applied the same principals to the Cincinnati Police Department, and we added over 10,000 different pieces of evidence to the database and we don't use any social media data to build our cases," said Ozer.

Initially, the technology was used to track gang-related violence. However, Ozer found that prosecutors were not willing to engage in gang prosecutions; they found it too difficult to put the data together to build their cases to present to the judge.

So, Ozer reframed the data to depict high-to-low violent neighborhoods and violent persons, leaving gang relations aside, since this can be hard to determine.

In 2010, Ozer completed his PhD, and by the end of 2012, found himself back in Cincinnati as the associate director of the UC Institute of Crime Science. In this new role, Ozer continued the work he started by working with law enforcement agencies such as the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Tulsa police departments to reduce gang-related violence. He also developed the first version of the web-based data-sharing platform that multiple agencies could use to find solutions for ongoing violent issues. 

When I was working with the police departments, I noticed the shooting rates were high. One heartbreaking issue is that young people are often victims of the shootings, usually.

Professor Murat Ozer

"When I realized the livelihood of the youth in certain areas I said, 'We have to do something for those individuals. We have to save them. We have to save their lives before they end up a victim of a violent shooting or homicide,'" said Ozer. "That is where his database became useful to police departments and began to promote smart policing."

Ozer's success in law enforcement connected him to DAAP. He hopes to collaborate with other departments and units within the university.

Strategic Foresight: Visualizing Sustainable Futures

"With this collaboration, we can make our departments stronger so we can do many projects together and teach these fields to our students," Ozer said. "If we can teach these skills to students in DAAP, this will also open doors to where they can apply to jobs in both fields."

With this collaboration, Ozer believes university faculty can create more joint courses and offer help to companies with the use of the open-source technology he's creating.

The leaders of those companies will be able to apply the same techniques of uploading data into the software to discover areas of opportunities to eliminate waste. This will allow companies to have better insights into their products and will lead to smarter and sustainable decisions.

Although this collaboration is relatively new between the School of Information Technology and DAAP, there will be more outcomes to come. 

Currently Ozer teaches IT courses within the College of Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Information Technology (CECH). He combines his criminal justice background and his software development experience to the courses for an enriched educational experience.

Aside from teaching, Ozer continues to work with other companies. He's also starting a UC startup company called Peel9, of which he serves as chief technology officer along with Todd Levy, the company's chief exectutive officer.

Levy and Ozer created Peel9 with a common goal of developing a new records management system for law enforcement. The company was recently awarded Best Software Product by the Cincinnati Business Courier. An award ceremony will be held on Aug. 28. Learn more about their start-up and others on UC News.