Portland – SimCity?

IBM Partners With Portland To Play SimCity For Real  (Fast Company)

“[Portland] is the first to use IBM’s app to help cities figure out how policy can affect the lives of their citizens. But can any algorithm quantify the whole experience of city living?”

“IBM pitched Portland in 2009 to assist in the creation of the “Portland Plan,” a 25-year road map for the city and its related government agencies, the first draft of which will be released later this month. The city’s goal was more modest than IBM’s, less a model of everything than a chance to “shine a light on the biggest drivers of change,” according to Joe Zehnder, the city’s chief planner. One of those drivers is the city’s commitment to a 40 percent decrease in carbon emissions by 2030, which necessitates less driving and more walking and biking. Running the model, Zehnder and his fellow planners found that obesity rates fell as the number of cyclists rose, which led to a further increase in biking. This knowledge proved useful both in formulating policy (more bicycle lanes, anyone?) and in creating metrics to measure their success down the road.”   read more…

An intriguing connection between technology that definitely highlights the need to use technology to supplement our understanding of the complexities of cities, the article also shows that it isn’t merely a deterministic model that generates form or policy from data, but incorporates the ‘art’ of planning and design (interpretation), as well as the necessary social connection with residents through community outreach.

Time to Think


A research based non-profit that connects academic research to urban design practice through a number of means, including expertise, scholarship, interventions, publications, and consultation with professionals.

potential activities

  • Update and re-evaluate seminal urban research (jacobs, whyte, lynch – the list is endless)
  • Keep the pulse of current research/scholarship in key areas
  • Produce publications, web/print/scholarly (mainstream to academic)
  • Events – for information dissemination, advocacy, salons/discussions
  • Conduit for specific research projects – self-directed ideas – ideas from others.
  • Consultation on local projects (expertise in key areas) – added to project teams
  • Place for student expansion of scholarship – bring students from around the globe