Thursday, November 16, 2006

for uber-wonks only: Modeling Pittsburgh

Mark pointed out to me this post on AgentSka's web site on some new work out there in the field of urban simulation models.

I just have to point out the history here. Pittsburgh was really at the center of urban development simulation long before any of this recent work. My friend Will Steger who owns CONSAD here in town has been doing this for something like the last 50 years. He was actually brought to Pittsburgh to build a urban simulation model having worked at RAND back in the 1950's.

Consad's Pittsburgh Urban Renewal Simulation Model dates back to the 1960's was clearly ahead of its time. Will tells me that some of the basic equations in the model would find their way into the original SimCity computer program even. Similarly, land use planning has a seminal piece of work in the Lowry Model which was also developed here in town and forms the basis of many land use forecasting models to this day. For more on that see the decent writeup on land use forecasting in Wikipedia.

I know some question the relevance of such history.. but you can learn a lot from the similarity of current issues with the debates of the past. If you are interested you may want to read more of Will's contemporaneous thoughts in this article: Reflections on citizen involvement in urban transportation planning: Towards a positive approach. in Journal Transportation. Issue Volume 3, Number 2 / July, 1974. Unfortunately not online.


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