Urban research: The laws of the city – a deludge of data makes cities laboratories
The Economist, Jun 23rd 2012
… Better technology has turned cities into fountains of data that confirm known regularities and reveal striking new patterns. This could transform how cities are regarded, built and managed. Attempts to contain urban sprawl, long the prevailing paradigm of urban planning, for instance, could fall out of favour. … This has triggered new research. For instance Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt, both of the Santa Fe Institute, found that cities scale much like organisms. Just as an elephant is, roughly speaking, a larger but more energy-efficient version of a gorilla, big cities are thrifty versions of small ones. For a metropolis twice the size of another, the length of electric cables, number of gas stations and other bits of infrastructure decrease by about 15% per inhabitant. But beasts do not enjoy the cities’ rising returns to scale. Income, patents, savings and other signs of wealth rise by around 15% when a city’s size doubles. In short, urbanites consume less but produce more. …
- Urban research: The laws of the city (economist.com)
Dr. Lea Shanley is the founder and former co-Chair of the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, a vibrant community of 200 federal employees from more than 35 agencies. She is also a co-founding member of the Citizen Science Association. Dr. Shanley recently served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA, where she helped to foster a culture of open innovation. Prior to this, she founded and directed the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center, served in the US Senate as a Congressional Science Fellow, and worked with local and tribal communities to develop GIS-based decision support systems for city planning, natural resource management, coastal management, and disaster response through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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