The city of Portland, Ore. and IBM have seen the future and it’s virtual.
The two have teamed up to develop a virtual “SimCity” to better understand how communities work, according to a press release. The computer simulation allows city leaders to see how the various systems, including the economy, housing, education, public safety, transportation, healthcare/wellness, government services and utilities, work in conjunction. That virtual view of the systems is designed to find ways Portland can become a “smarter city,” in the real world, according to the release. The model was created to support the Portland Plan, a roadmap the city has outlined for the next 25 years.
“By collaborating with IBM and applying the power of innovation, we have created an exploratory model that arms our city leaders with ways to explore decisions,” Portland Mayor Sam Adams. “In turn, that can help us become a Smarter City.”
The city and IBM started working on the project in 2009. Portland has announced a push to reduce carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 and tapped the computer program to study a link between obesity rates and a willingness to use active public transportation such as biking and walking trails.
“The City of Portland has served as a living laboratory during our year-long collaboration to explore how complex city systems behave over time. While other analytical approaches rely on breaking a problem down into smaller and smaller pieces, the model we’ve created recognizes that the behaviour of a system as a whole can be different from what might be anticipated by looking at its parts,” said Michael Littlejohn, vice president of strategy for Smarter Cities at IBM. “Using this model, the City of Portland can experiment with different scenarios to see how their decisions might affect various parts of the city over the next 25 years.”
Photo courtesy of David Feucht, Poetas, Flickr CC