The effort is seen as a way to understand how various urban systems and functions interrelate, and how tweaking one might affect others -- or the entire system.
"This problem--if you can't measure it, you can't manage it--combined with the impulse to improve cities by models, is driving both IBM's "smarter city" strategy and the nascent "urban systems" movement, which seek to apply complexity science to cities. IBM sponsored the first Urban Systems Symposium in May (where West co-starred in a show-stopping discussion with Paul Romer and Stewart Brand) and today announced the latest plank in its smarter city platform: an "app" containing 3,000 equations which collectively seek to model cities' emergent behavior. IBM also revealed its first customer, the City of Portland, Oregon.
Systems Dynamics for Smarter Cities, as the app is called, tries to quantify the cause-and-effect relationships between seemingly uncorrelated urban phenomena. What's the connection, for example, between public transit fares and high school graduation rates? Or obesity rates and carbon emissions?"