Thursday, January 23, 2014

Creative Cities

Over the last year I have been working with Ammar Malik and Hilton Root on a small project which explores the relationship between human creativity and urban development via an agent-based model. We have recently just completed a working paper for this project entitled: "Can Pakistan have creative cities? An agent based modeling approach with preliminary application to Karachi" which was published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). For interested readers, below is the abstract to the paper:
Scholars and urban planners have suggested that the key characteristic of leading world cities is that they attract the best and brightest minds. As home to the creative classes, which consist of professionals working in knowledge-based industries, they are the bedrocks of prosperity and drivers of innovation. They not only provide unrivaled educational and professional opportunities, but also the best entertainment facilities such as art galleries, theaters and restaurants. Both through hard and soft infrastructure, residents of these cities enjoy seamless connectivity which fosters human creativity. When combined with population density, socio-economic diversity and societal tolerance, the elevated interaction intensity diffuses creativity and boosts economic productivity. However, rapidly urbanizing cities in the developing world are struggling to maintain adequate service delivery standards. The form and function of many cities are increasingly marred by congestion, sprawl and socioeconomic segregation, preventing them from experiencing expected productivity gains associated with urbanization. We operationalize these insights by creating a stylized agent-based model of a theoretical city, inspired by social complexity theory and the new urban literature. A virtual environment is designed where heterogeneous and independent decision-making agents interact under various policy scenarios, such as greater urban transportation investments and altered land-use regulations. By creating typical urban conditions, we conclude that the combination of mixed land-use, improved access to urban mobility and high societal tolerance levels foster creativity led urban economic growth.

For more details see:
Malik, A.A., Crooks, A.T. and Root, H.L. (2013), Can Pakistan have Creative Cities? An Agent Based Modeling Approach with Preliminary Application to Karachi. Pakistan Strategy Support Program Working Paper 13, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC. (pdf)


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