2012/10/11 9:15 Tool Talks, City Science Workshop, U. of Toronto

City Science academic and industry presentations (7 minutes each) on emerging tools, techniques, data and models for collaborative work. At workshop on “Finding Connections Between City Systems and Subsystems”, University of Toronto Cities Centre, October 10-11, 2012.

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Introduction by Steve Easterbrook

Jump to …

[Mark Ho] [Rhys Goldstein] [Ramtin Attar] [Jose Lobo] [Slobodan Simonovic] [Chris Kennedy] [David Ing (systems)] [Andre Sorensen and Paul Hess] [Seanna Davidson] [Marc-Paul Gauthier] [David Ing (MRM)] [Michael van der Laan]

Mark Ho, Esri, “Esri Geodesign”

Demo of Esri CityEngine

  • New product, acquired from Procederal, in Switzerland
  • World of geodesign

Main role to create high quality 3D

Can genearate content

  • Cars 2, Total Recall backgrounds were built with this
  • Done with rules

3D design tool: geodesign

  • Interactively change parameters of a complex

Example: 2D building footprint map

  • Apply rule to show in 3D
  • Zoom into a block
  • Rules prewritten or can be written, e.g. footprintRooftop

Standalone product from other ESRI products

Software levels, product is 64 bit

After rule has been applied, can change parameters of a building, e.g. level of detail (low to high), building height, windows types

Can add in street data, change data

Hard surfaces, e.g. empty lot, would like to add development: add some partial data, and then apply a rule for some buildings, the implement scenarios, could change height from 30m to 50m, spacing between buildings, generate a facade, generate some greenspace, generate interiors as well as exteriors

Can also generate reports: floor area ratio, gross floor space

Can generate from scratch

2012 release, can work with the web: City Engine Web Scenes, so that can publish on the web

  • Example for the City of Philadelphia
  • Bookmarks for navigation
  • Can see highways generated with cars, streets with trees
  • Building proposed, can be shown to users in different ways, with what’s currently available: two panes with wipe between
  • Can change sunlight


Level of materials, e.g. amount of concrete?

  • Yes, can design into a rule, then can report

[jump to top]

Rhys Goldstein, Autodesk “Design DEVS”

Would like to present Rob Ford’s transit model in a simulation

Collaboration between programmers

Two steps:

  • 1. Form teams to model certain systems, e.g. traffic, power, food supply
  • Go away for 2 years, and write independently
  • This is easy to do
  • 2. Hard part would be to put these together, as a system of systems

DEVS was developed in 1976, the description from Wikipedia is difficult, so the first job will be to make it more accessible

Formula presented as maps

  • Flowchart as simulation progresses

Could try simulation with input messages, e.g. someone getting on a subway

  • e.g. output, coming out of a subway

Then statistics, e.g. wait time

Collaboration of two DEVS models, e.g. city traffic with ambulance service

Software called DesignDEVS, hope to circulate for free this spring

[jump to top]

Ramtin Attar, Autodesk, “Project Dasher”

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us” — Winston Churchill

How do we measure sustainability at a building level?

New York Times: “Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label”

  • Can we measure sustainability, in complex systems?

Gap between design and operation of the built environment

  • Have a lot of tools in the design space, not so many in operation
  • Design process is only 3% of cost in the entire life cycle of building

Where is most energy being used in a building?

Started Project Dasher

  • Combination of a building information model (an intelligent 3D model, manufacturing, assembly, construction), data collection from building control systems, submeters, cubicle sensors
  • Dasher is the context within which data is brought it, otherwise it doesn’t make sense

Can break the building into a hierarchy

  • e.g. energy usage for floor, cubicle

Goal: visualize a massive amount of data over time

Not just looking at high visualization, combined with HVAC, etc.

Prototype: load onto iPad, then can walk around a building

  • Currently some use Google Docs to transfer

Pilot projects include Government of Canada; Netzero building in Cradle to Cradle; NASA

Can we think of a building that gets better of time, as it ages?

For Dasher, can see a trend towards data growing in the Internet of Things, will have trillions of sensors in cities

  • CitySense: An Open, urban-Scale Sendor Network Testbed, Harvard U. and BBN Technologies
  • Portugal: City as a Living Lab
  • At Carleton University, Batawa research, in conjunction with Lady Bata, data from 1940 – 1960 – 1980, can see road formation and building envelopes at different stages, combined building information models and infrastructure models, enables public imagination
  • First Nations Land Planning and Infrastructure Management: have challenges combining with subsystems and systems, little intelligent data from city buildings

Conference: SimAUD, http://simaud.org/2013

[jump to top]

Jose Lobo, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, “Metabolism and Economic Activity for Global Urban Areas: Empirical Challenges”

Background as physicist

  • Building theories as a goal
  • Can only build good theories, if have good data

Urban economics: have good data

  • e.g. characteristics been urban environment, and innovation
  • Mostly rely on data in North America and Europe, because that’s where we have data

How do we build models for other places in the world?

We know how many people live in Mumbai

  • But how much activity occurs?
  • From census bureau in the U.S., have the value of economic activity coming out of cities

Metaphor: urban metabolism

  • Taking inputs, generating outputs
  • To turn metaphor into model, how much energy does a city use?
  • Difficult to answer in the U.S., even more difficult for global cities

Defense department has Night Time Light (NTL) data, as a byproduct

  • Defense Metereological …

Has led to research, e.g. “The Rise of the Mega-region” by Richard Florida; “Shedding Light on the Global Distribution of Economic Activity”

Also axiomatic will be some relationship between economics and light


  • What is relationship between NTL (night time lighting), and economic activity?
  • Can easily download data, be used to publish

Problem: saturation

  • Light emissions are recorded on a scale of 0 to 63; past a certain level of intensity, the sensors are not sensitive enough
  • Data is collected, passed on to NOAA, then available
  • Unsaturated data is available only for one year, 2006

As organisms get larger, they get more efficient of use with energy

  • Are cities like or unlike organisms?

Some research at U. of Toronto

  • Research proposal to NASA rejected


Any outliers on relationship? Russia?

  • Haven’t examined at global scale
  • For North America, the differences between richest and poorest not so large

[jump to top]

Slobodan Simonovic, University of Western Ontario, “City Resilience Simulator”

Building resilience as part of a new paradigm

Resilient city is seen as sustainable goal, for social and institutional gain

Trying to develop measures of resilience, covariant with large urban environments

Quantifying the concept of resilience

  • Single number
  • Performance of a system over time, through a multidimensional space of performance measures
  • Could be a generic way of looking at different ideas

Definition of resilience (as per engineering)

  • Ability to reduced the chance of shock, to absorb shock if it occurs and to recover quickly after a shock
  • May or may not recover to prior state

Graph: vertical axis as quality of infrastructure, or quality of living

  • Horizontal axis: time
  • Resilience is area under curve, the time to recover to initial stable state

Trying to map time and space

Impacts: non-climatic or climatic

  • Vulnerability and exposure

Adaptive capacity

Now working on research with coastal cities: Vancouver, Lagos

  • Have developed generic simulator


New centre for Resilient Infrastructure at U. of Toronto

[jump to top]

Chris Kennedy, University of Toronto “Mathematical Model of Urban Metabolism”

One slide, may be through in 5 minutes

Bottom up development

Metabolism at water flows, material flows, energy

A lot of studies published

  • Any city that has done a greenhouse gas study has the data

Moving to new level of research

  • An accounting framework of flows inside and outside of city

Published as book, not subject to peer review

Breaking down components:

  • Heating fuels relate to breathing
  • In U.S., some relationship with July temperatures

Research learning about metabolism and greenhouse gases

Have Canadian municipalities with data about how they’ll be dealing with greenhouse gases

Published “The Evolution of Great World Cities: Urban Wealth and Economic Growth” published in 2011

Mathematical model is driven by urban infrastructure, e.g. square footage of buildings, roads

[jump to top]

David Ing – Service Systems, Natural Systems

See profile at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ing , blog at http://coevolving.com/blogs/, microblog at http://twitter.com/daviding

See slides at http://coevolving.com/commons/20121011-citysciences-ing-service-systems-natural-systems .

[jump to top]

Andre Sorensen and Paul Hess (University of Toronto), “Urban Form Analysis: Toronto region evolution over 60 years”

Work on the Toronto region, based on census data

Census data is bad to looking for urban form

Have been creating a dataset based on parcels, that can be aggregated

  • 550 areas, based on pre-settlement farms and concession roads, as basic planning units for suburban development over the past 60 years

Halton, Peel, York, Durham, Toronto — have become a single urban centre

Divided up into study areas, can see by date for housing stock, making a typology of different areas in the region: housing density, plot size, socioeconomic status

Institutions, planning institutions that govern, evolving over 60 year period

  • Different rulesets from different approaches over different jurisdictions
  • Output of urban form has been consistent
  • Robust in creating an urban form, with an inflection in the 1990s smarter growth, denser grids

Over summer, coded all of the housing stock as semi-detached, townhouses, etc.

Have data from 2010, won’t have the same long form data in 2011



  • Don’t have ownership data, so have apartment buildings

[jump to top]

Seanna Davidson, University of Waterloo, “Building Social Innovation Tools at the Waterloo Institute for Innovation and Resilience”

See profile at http://sig.uwaterloo.ca/profile/sdavidson and microblog at http://twitter.com/seannalee

Systems Mapping Tool being developed by Dan McCarthy

  • How to map systems in a way so that we can have a dialogue
  • Questions to work through with a group
  • Understanding landscape boundaries
  • Context, what’s included and not
  • Easy to scale up, not necessarily breaking down into smaller pieces
  • What is the current system that we’re working with?
  • Feedback with institutions
  • Alternatives
  • Working towards a transformative pathway

Social Innovation Lab

  • Towards the end of process
  • Design labs and change labs have been popular, how is a social innovation lab different?
  • Design labs: emphasize on quality of ideas, incorporating different perspectives
  • Change labs: collaboration, shared understanding between participants, towards shared action
  • Social innovation lab: emphasize development of solutions, more attention on integration into systems
  • Have been working with other partners, e.g. Helsinki Design Lab, Mindlab, Institute without Boundaries, Stanford Design for Change, to figure out how Social Innovation Lab is different
  • Process: design brief, types of research necessary skills, at what stages
  • Struuture: where they should happen, how they’re funded, how projects are generated, how they are rolled out
  • Design principles: social innovation model of systems with cross-scale and cross-sector perspectives; using ethnographic research methods, to create the design brief; including intensive workshops that bring in emotions; customized model to test sensitivities to ideas

Research to date is on web site

  • Social Innovation Generation: a community of practice on how things happen


Helsinki Design Lab different as funded by government, as compared to organization funded by foundations

  • Not trying to replicate, want to learn from expertise of colleagues of what has worked and hasn’t worked

[jump to top]

Marc-Paul Gauthier, Arup, “IMSEP Integrated Mode Share Estimation Platform for Sites and Station Areas”

Part of some internal research at Arup

Want to understand transit mode share

  • Could do case study analyses, areas like what we have, e.g. region with 10%, 30% ridership
  • Problem: don’t know what’s interactive
  • Other side, could build regional models, based on transportation modes like roads and rails
  • Would like to have something between case study analyses and regional models

Look not just at travel time and mode shares, but how the area operates

  • 3D: Density, diversity, design

Created an ESRI ArcMap plugin using Python (didn’t want to rebuild everything, relies on GIS)

Research had coefficients, e.g. density of street networks, distance between stops

  • In Toronto, generated transit ridership by station
  • Block sizes –> station boarding

IMSEP case study, Scarborough Town Centre

  • Mapped, and then started making changes, adding residential blocks that weren’t there before
  • Impacts density, land use mix, leading to different transit station boarding
  • Result would look like City Engine output demoed earlier

Next steps: Would like develop coefficients for Toronto, like those done for Seoul

[jump to top]

David Ing (for Roy Wiseman and Jim Amsden) “The Municipal Reference Model: Government by Design”

See slides at http://coevolving.com/commons/20121011-the-municipal-reference-model-government-by-design .

[jump to top]

Michael van der Laan, University of British Columbia, “Web Application of Urban Form and Land Use Cases”

In BC, all communities collect energy consumption and emissions data

  • Now to run for future development

Develop methods of “measured visualization”: what resonates with citizens?

Venue is engagement with city planners, professionals, stakeholders

Elevate consideration of sustainability

Have tool on web site where people can play with insulation values, seeing different quantitative data in cases

  • Cases like a building information model, but maybe not so complicated
  • Can then aggregate data into combinations and arrangements to simulate alternatives

Learning how to improve measured visualization tools, test potential of user created content

[jump to top]


#cities-centre, #city-science, #utoronto

2012/10/10 13:35 David Miller, “Finding the Connections Between Academia and Government that Make Change Happen”, City Science Workshop, U. of Toronto

Thematic presentation by @iamdavidmiller on “Cities as systems of systems” to stimulate discussion at #cityscience workshop on “Finding Connections Between City Systems and Subsystems”,University of Toronto Cities Centre, October 10-11, 2012.

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, by David Ing.

Introduction by Eric Miller

  • David Miller is currently advising at Aird & Berlis, former mayor of City of Toronto

[David Miller]

Important to have discussion on cities future, in academic research

Today, will talk about how decisions were made when was mayor, with research

  • Some insights on what academics should be doing

How politicians make decisions

  • 1. Mandate from citizens of Toronto; wanted to leave the city with commitments made
  • e.g. disagree with Stephen Harper building prisons when crime is falling, but had made that commitment
  • 2. Can speak about philosophical, but are then responsible for implementing down to the last detail, different for mayor from MPs and MPPs
  • City councillors sit on board of TTC
  • Different being a city councillor, as compared to member of parliament
  • Need to understand facts and research, or else will accept the responsibility for screw-ups

Transit City: adopted by TTC in March 2007

  • Was a commitment from 2006 election
  • Based on knowledge from being a TTC commissioner for a number of years
  • Knew it wasn’t possible to create a network of subways: not enough density
  • Could have had a few subway stations, but need a network, because there are places where public transit doesn’t reach
  • Need a rapid transit, not own right of way at high-speed high capacity
  • Wanted to be electric in the long term
  • Committed to put in a network of LRT in Toronto

Post 2006, went to authority, which is TTC

  • They have counts, data matched by no one
  • Bashing them is wrongheaded, they have data
  • In Sheppard subway, they brought in private sector expertise into TTC
  • They developed plan: Finch and Sheppard are through routes, Eglinton
  • All lines based on current projections and future projections of ridership
  • Overlaid with Toronto official plan: we think sprawl is bad, we want to welcome growth into the city, growth should happen in development where there already is mass transit, or will be
  • Was based on best information
  • Etobicoke Finch West went through York U; Waterfront West through Humber; Scarborough Malvern through U of Toronto Scarborough College

Government has mandate, with moral authority

  • If government is smart, then evidence will win the day
  • If they don’t work, then will be responsible for those decisions

Sheppard and Finch also have social benefits in connecting the city

  • Priority neighbourhoods served by lines
  • Heaviest used routes, people with low income
  • Rode with woman from Scarborough who worked at airport, then afternoons in the Royal York: 4 hours in transit
  • Pushed down prices of Metropass, relative to tokens

Had a massive launch of Transit City, Adam Giambrone communications program

  • Most people prefer subway, but most people understand should do Transit City
  • This also got the province interested, it would be a win for the premier

Problem with Transit City was that it wasn’t controversial, had votes 44 to 1, and the news media doesn’t pick that up

Tower renewal

  • Engineers were working on environmental issues
  • Buildings are 60% of emissions in cities
  • Engineers had strategy to skin the buildings outside, and insulate between the skin and the new buildings
  • Buildings were concrete slab construction, there’s about 1000 in Toronto, built in 1960s-1970s-1980s from federal funds
  • Federal funds said could have more height if more green space around it, although lots of pools with no water in them
  • Energy savings were massive
  • Insulating buildings could lower carbon emissions and energy by 5%, when Kyoto target was 6%
  • Architect wrote master’s thesis: reskinning means rejuvenating neighbourhoods
  • Have done in Berlin, Bratislava, Paris
  • Many of buildings are in lower income neighbourhoods, so started working with trade unions for new skills to do retrofits with young people — still in pilot phase
  • Most apartments were there wasn’t rapid transit, yet few have commercial at grade, so to get groceries would have to drive
  • Still had commercial activities, e.g. dentures in one apartment, herbal remedies in another apartment, illegal
  • But if rezoned ground floor as commercial or some of green space, opportunities for entrepreneurs
  • A lot of green space, not used effectively
  • Work would have been done mostly by private contractors
  • Skins might be done locally
  • Had strong dialogue with civil servants

City of Toronto is extremely siloed

  • Got rid of a layer of commissioners reporting to council, replaced with three deputy city managers
  • Social services, planning, IT — tried to drive cooperation
  • This works from leadership from the office of the mayor

Priority neighbourhoods

  • High density neighbourhoods, and Transit City lines connecting
  • High concentration of low income, and low concentration of public services
  • Regent Park is not a priority neighbourhood, they have public services that Jane-Finch and Rexdale don’t
  • Wanted to do neighbourhood-based work, so did United Way
  • Report: where do we need priority investment?
  • Sometimes priority neighbourhood is correlated with crime, not always
  • Became foundation of the community safety plan: safety not just as absence of crime, but living in a community that was socially just
  • Came about with in-depth work: risky, as didn’t know what the research would say, didn’t know if provincial government would fund
  • U. of Toronto came out with studies of poverty by postal code, got lots of media attention

Heard that there was a lack of childcare, a public good for two working parents

  • Built childcare in priority neighbourhood in advance of federal funding
  • Built 60, some in Catholic places not previously covered
  • If Harper hadn’t cancelled the program, would have built 50 more
  • Research doesn’t produce just theoretical results, also practical

Process to make decisions, importance of facts and understanding for government

  • 1. Need partnership with civil service, they see across responsibilities of the city
  • e.g. if building a condo and want to donate some land for green space, civil service will ask for $250K, so it can be maintained, as it’s been done before
  • 2. Need communication with elected officials: briefings and speeches, everyday, so didn’t have time to think through public policy, need it simple
  • Need facts on one page, simply
  • Councillors aren’t quite as busy as mayor, but still busy
  • Have to use plain language to make it simple and clear
  • 3. Communicating with the public: need peer review, but dealing in a world where media writes “Toronto’s war on the car”: Jarvis as extension of Mount Pleasant, 1/15th of length
  • Had public consultatation to put the lane in, apparently don’t need it to remove it out
  • A lie has gone around the world, before the truth has put on its pants in the world
  • Study from Stanford: organic food is no safer or healthier than conventional food — where the study said that it doesn’t have more nutrients, but it does have fewer pesticides
  • To do the right research-based studies, need to be more nimble
  • After headline is out, it’s too late to debate it

Allan Gregg’s article on reason: young people need a common shared understanding, so that can get change

  • Need scientists to be clear


Evidence-based policy making, and policy-based evidence

  • Have good communications methods
  • For research base, be authentic, don’t be afraid to get the facts out
  • Have to find a way to make public conversations more sophisticated, it’s not easy

Lessons from radio show from New York

  • Was a pilot
  • Less interest after the current mayor was elected
  • CBC went to New York, to talk about what they were doing on green initiatives
  • Premise that people don’t know what’s being done that is good for economy
  • Learn from New York: people just do it
  • New York has an active civic culture
  • Paddling canoe down Bronx River, used to be chemical toxic dump, community formed Bronx River Alliance and cleaned it up
  • Highline Park: rail, through meat packing district, disused since the 1980s, organized as Friends of the Highline, then went to city to ask for empowerment

Time, be quicker?

  • After Transit City was approved, TTC went full speed
  • Started Sheppard in 2009, could have started in 2010, slowed down by Metrolinx as they wanted suburban link stops, where Toronto wanted urban link stops
  • If Premier hadn’t pulled funding for Finch (wasted $50M in engineering) would have been ready to go in 2010
  • Federal government wasn’t looking at projects like this, for the stimulus packages
  • More charitably, federal government wanted smaller projects that could be done more quickly
  • Sheppard funding came from Paul Martin
  • Could have been important to Thunder Bay, as suppliers when they’re also suppliers to Detroit, when down
  • Feds wanted to control, didn’t want municipalities to make decisions, which weren’t the ones that Feds would make
  • So, Feds asked for everything that city could do quickly
  • Developers call quickly

Funding cuts, where do researchers go?

  • Austerity is an excuse to cut what you don’t want.
  • World Bank is interested in cities, but its mandate is in the developing world
  • U.S. has an advantage over Canada, as it’s got more charitable foundations
  • Otherwise, need to create political environment where it’s not acceptable to cut research

#cities-centre, #city-science, #utoronto

2012/10/10 10:10 Andrew Wisdom, “Cities as systems of systems”, City Science Workshop, U. of Toronto

Thematic presentation by @MelbourneWisdom on “Cities as systems of systems” to stimulate discussion at #cityscience workshop on “Finding Connections Between City Systems and Subsystems”,University of Toronto Cities Centre, October 10-11, 2012.

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, by David Ing.

Introduction by Eric Miller

  • Andrew Wisdom, Cities Leader at Arup Australasia

[Andrew Wisdom]

From previous talk, definitional issues on water

  • Live in Melbourne, don’t even think about storm water as water

Challenge in changing the way we think about things

Cities under pressure

  • San Paulo traffic jam

Dominant paradigm

  • Systems are organized as a way we look at the world
  • Technocentric — Sustaincentric — Ecocentric


  • World is there for us to rip things out
  • Nature has no inherent value
  • We can fix anything with technology


  • Have to work with nature
  • Shouldn’t be materialistic
  • Should be able to survive without growing
  • Reaching Earth’s limits
  • Environmental problems are solvable


  • ?

[Exercise on where we are on the scale]

Waning interest

  • Global warming peaked in 2007 (when it beat out Angelina Jolie on Google Search), some people wouldn’t mind warming
  • Unemployment is much more popular
  • Cartoon: An Inconvenient Truth, versus A Reassuring Lie

Instead of thinking of cities as consumptive city, think as generative city

Map of city of Melbourne, VAMPIRE Index, vulnerability to petroleum, insurance, real estate, etc.

  • People who live in the middle of town don’t really care
  • In western suburbs, sewage is a problem, thus west is branded as a bad place to be
  • New development is in Windom, is one of fastest growing in North America
  • Tricky place to be, dual income families
  • Great Australian dream
  • All of the good new jobs are on the east side of city, so everyone is commuting 1-1/2 hours per day
  • In western part of town, more than 50% of home are single person

Sweden importing waste to service power plants

  • Different paradigm

City patterns: a way of dealing with complexity

Zambian Wine logistics

  • Process to take grapes, and put them into a glass

LinkedIn network

  • Blue is Arup connections in Australia, but don’t know people outside

TTC executive suite with four operating divisions

  • What would happen if you put the chief customer officer over the other divisions?

Because of complex sets within city, we create silos

  • Land use planning, with single use zoning
  • Easy, what goes where become tractable
  • Doesn’t mean the city operates well
  • Melbourne used to have 3000 people, used to have licensing to close pubs at 6 pm so people would go home
  • Now converting commercial spaces into residential

Transportation as optimized within a silo

  • Build a freeway, has a terminus

Health: Agency for Health Care Research in the U.S.

  • Average length of stay
  • Outcome metrics
  • Readmission rates

Accounting approach to health: structure –> metrics –> outcomes

  • Breaking bone below the elbow is occupational therapy, as compared to above

Medical model of health

  • Define a problem, sets of treatment

Mental Health: DSM-IV, follows the medical model

  • Homosexuality used to be categorized as an illness
  • Temper disregulation disorder?
  • Oppositional defiant disorder: easily annoyed or angry: could be characteristics of a naughty kid

Internet use disorder?

The medicated child, as a way we think about the health issue

  • Prescription of ADHD drugs to underperforming kids
  • Deals with a social issue in a medical way

National health expenditures per capita

  • U.S. is spending more, but life expectancy isn’t longer

Rather than dealing with health, deal with wellbeing

  • Health related benefits of companion animal ownership, on physical health, psychological health and social health
  • Greenspace impacts on health
  • Availability of healthy food and BMI for New York City
  • Neighbourhood walkability and BMI for New York City residents
  • Health and social problems are worse in more unequal countries

Dongtan Eco-city, China

  • A hero project
  • Near Shanghai
  • Growing on river, sediment deposits
  • Building out productive land to make urban land seems weird, unless productivity is increased, e.g. vertical farming
  • Food-positive, water-neutral
  • A place where people walk
  • Land resource model

Low2No, Helsinki

  • Old waterfront area that Sitra is developing, focus on productive value
  • What is combination of uses that can be put there?

Werribee, Melbourne

  • West end of Melbourne
  • Have been planting an idea of 4 to 5 years of sewage as nutrient-rich water
  • Leads to thinking about industrial ecology: output from one process is input to another process
  • Market gardens, used to grow 3 crops a year of broccoli, now irrigation means 2 crops a year, with duopoly in retail
  • Hothouse grower: 100 hectare community as an eco innovation centre
  • University in the western suburbs, could use a living lab next door
  • Opportunity for energy self-sufficiency, could be water-positive
  • Difference between minimizing and being productive
  • Could have a carbon sink

What is an effective policy?

  • Have issues with bipartisan support
  • How to drive action?


#cities-centre, #city-science, #utoronto

2012/10/10 9:20 Jeb Brugmann, The Productive City, City Science Workshop, U. of Toronto

Thematic presentation by Jeb Brugmann on “Cities as systems of systems” to stimulate #cityscience discussion at workshop on “Finding Connections Between City Systems and Subsystems”, University of Toronto, October 10-11, 2012.

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Introduction by Eric Miller and Steve Easterbrook

[Jeb Brugmann]

What’s the level of ambition we should have?

  • With 9.5 billion people by 2050, need to thrive

Point of reference as practitioner

  • Organized at United Nations 1990: first time wrapping mind around sustainable development
  • Maurice Strong
  • Were debating English and French, sustainability not in parlance

At congress, 2 ideas

  • One idea Agenda 21: had done 30 cities, need a local agenda, have to be brought down to ground
  • 2002 Johannesburg summit, > 120 communities had engaged
  • Other idea on methodologies on greenhouse gases in cities: what is a city? how do we measure greenhouse gases?
  • First round of cities (Toronto, Copenhagen, Portland) set targets of 10% to 20% reductions
  • 80% targets may be unrealistic, but they’ve gone through city governments

Came up with ecological footprinting, overshooting problem

  • Carbon counting is easier than defining a sustainable city
  • City of Calgary is thinking about whether should have developers doing ecological footprint, carrying capacity in 2 or 3 dimensions
  • Twists of measurement silliness, would like some more rigourous

For practitioners, more pressure to create more urban space, e.g. India for 435M people

  • Elasticity of demand for protein and energy consumption near 1:1
  • Building on periphery
  • Urban agglomeration, but not efficient
  • How do we accelerate optimization of internal geography, with underutilized urban assets

Urban periphery, lack of services

In the U.S., where did the subprime crisis happen: 62% of foreclosures in 9 metro areas, most in new peripheral suburbs

  • Economics were aspirational, mansions on the periphery
  • Causing developers to rethink what they’re developing

Optimization of location: how do we find spaces in cities that have low value, and could be developed, e.g. downtown Melbourne with cafes and arts

Urban system optimization: transit corridors

In North America, behind, on the learning curve

  • Kronsberg, Germany, hosting world expo 2000
  • Had 85 hectares, wanted some performance metrics: 3% storm water runoff, affordable to Turkish or Eastern European immigrant per square metre, lower energy use below already tight German standards

In City of Toronto, only place that offers heating and cooling downtown to Central Business District

  • Has been done over 20 yars
  • Complications of heating and cooling systems with potable water

The Extractive City

  • The city as a processing machine, extracting from nature

Have moved to the Eco-Efficient City

  • How to increase the secondary productivity of nature’s production
  • Apply human talent and labour to dematerialize
  • Reduce waste, load
  • Moving from industrial production systems
  • If had been more ambitious in 1990, might have found this path earlier
  • “Managing human ecosystems” a best-selling paper, but nothing that people could do with it
  • Feeling that city has to be a network productivity system
  • How shift from extracting from nature?


  • Evolved from management –> integration –> eco-efficiency –> optimization –>
  • Environmental management –> Integrated Planning –> Retrofits / System Re-ernginggerint –> Green Buildings –> Productive Cities

Market say yes,

  • property management –> property optimization –> location / system optimization
  • Ad hoc development –> … –>

Urban energy production

  • IEA Global Energy Demand, 450 ppm scenario, dependence on fossil fuels will decline
  • Want 9.5 billion people to have average energy use of Europeans today
  • Assume we can get people to act rationally
  • Technology, look at Amory Lovins, etc.
  • Policy drivers
  • McKinsey curve
  • Just for urban population, not looking at rural
  • Gigajoules per capita

Scenario for Hannover, Germany

  • Hannover Renewables Strategy, could be a net producer to get to a sustainable state

Food productivity

  • FAO statistics, calories per capita, declining
  • Arable land, non-forested
  • Reduce food waste
  • Havana: has diversified urban agricultural production, after loss of Russian petroleum, 75% of vegetables are grown within the metro area
  • Regional food production in Metro Vancouver, produces enough to bridge the wedge
  • Doesn’t even include sophisticated methods, e.g. optimizing space to mechanically move plants through light and water


  • Landfill mining

We’ve underestimated transformation of urban areas from rural

  • Corichiba: mob-operated bus, becoming transit that is now overutilized
  • Optimized urban corridor

Hannover 1946 versus today, amazing transformation

  • 50% of midday electricity in German is from rooftop solar

Should feel weird and ridiculous, or aren’t setting enough ambition

Case study of Productive City Rotterdam, Stadshaven masterplan

  • Net producer


In China, eco-city buildings

Issues of scaling are sticky, tricky definitions of measures

  • Not just technical, will be policy
  • e.g. geothermal for a school, what institution enables that?



Issue of water?

  • Rainwater capture as primary production
  • It is a blank, needs to be filled in
  • Rotterdam needs to be a net producer of water, mostly from rainfall
  • Desalination

Complexity of systems, Homer-Dixon says that more we try to optimize, the more energy they require to run

  • Issues of smart, optimizing locally
  • Upstream, how much more energy?
  • Need a lifecycle and scale way of measuring
  • In downtown Toronto, local optimizing
  • Hannover is a biomass energy economy
  • High tech is sometimes upstream
  • Some advocates of hydrogen economy

Seven-times growth

  • Schomo, U. of Connecticut, big multi-year project
  • Have datapoints, could look at Canada
  • Track satellite data around the world

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