Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with the University of Chicago, received a $600,000 federal grant for a new research effort that will help decision-makers in urban areas better understand the impact of different policies on their communities.
According to the University of Chicago, the population of the world's cities will nearly double over the next several decades. And there's much more data being collected to help optimize the operation of cities and anticipate the impact of their growth.
The $600,000 grant, from the National Science Foundation, will unite reseachers through the Computation Institute (CI), a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
The new Urban Center for Computation and Data will apply advanced computational and data-driven techniques to the challenge of intelligent urban planning and design, according to a university news release.
"We're seeing accelerated urbanization globally, outpacing traditional tools and methods of urban design and operation," said UrbanCCD Director Charlie Catlett, a senior computer scientist at Argonne.
"The consequences are seen in inefficient transportation networks belching greenhouse gasses and unplanned city-scale slums with crippling poverty and health challenges. There is an urgent need to apply advanced computational methods and resources to both explore and anticipate the impact of urban expansion and find effective policies and interventions."
The collaboration will analyze urban data and build complex computer models that simulate the impact of policy decisions and development upon a city and its residents.
For example, a multi-dimensional model could simulate the impact of adding or subtracting bus lines on a region's crime, unemployment or access to health care. Urban planners and architects can simulate the energy and infrastructure needs of new, large-scale developments with unprecedented depth of detail before construction begins.
As Chicago and an increasing number of other cities are releasing datasets on crime, public transportation, schools, budgets and other areas to the public for open use, urban researchers used to working with scarce and outdated information are finding new opportunities and challenges in this abundance of data.
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) lauded the project in a news release.
"With unprecedented volumes of data and statistics being collected in metropolitan areas, grants like these will help put that information to good, practical use, and could reduce the burden on taxpayers in metropolitan areas such as Chicago as resources are used more efficiently," Lipinski said.