All around the world, cities are building new neighborhoods and developments at a scale never before seen in human history. Designing these massive construction projects -- and ensuring that they are energy-efficient and livable for decades to come -- exceeds the limits of the tools architects and urban planners have used in the past. So the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data, in partnership with architecture firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the Clean Energy Trust, and developers McCaffery Interests, are developing a new, more powerful platform for city design, called LakeSim. With the 600-acre Chicago Lakeside Development on the South Side of the city as its test case, UrbanCCD scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are combining high-performance scientific models with modern urban design tools to produce long-term and high-resolution estimates for critical urban dimensions such as energy, transportation, wastewater, and more.
Through civic hacking events and open data portals, the Obama administration has embraced the potential of data and programming to improve the performance of government for its citizens. As academia and industry increasingly moves toward using computational techniques to inform policy decisions, these more ambitious efforts have also attracted the attention of the White House. On April 4th, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) convened a panel called “Analytical Techniques to Improve Public Policy Decision-Making” at their regular meeting, inviting CI Senior Fellow Charlie Catlett and three other experts to report on the promise of this young research area.
For the AAAS 2014 session, “A New Era for Urban Research: Open Data and Big Computation,” CI Senior Fellow and Urban Center for Computation and Data director Charlie Catlett assembled an “all-star cast” of social scientists, computer scientists, and representatives from government and industry to illustrate these new partnerships. The urgency driving the presentations and discussions was the rapidly growing urbanization around the world, particularly in China, where they will need to build the equivalent of one New York City every year to house its growing urban population, Catlett said. In the face of these imposing statistics, speakers demonstrated exciting new work going on in Chicago, New York, Beijing, and Boston.
The first Computation Institute Inside The Discovery Cloud event focused on the Culture & Society research area, bringing together Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data, and James Evans, director of the Knowledge Lab. In Catlett's talk, he offers a sneak peek at three ongoing UrbanCCD projects: The LakeSim platform for large-scale urban design, the Data Science for Social Good fellowship, and a partnership with the City of Chicago to create a city-wide network of sensors to collect data and conduct research.
Data and computation were on the table earlier this month at a Cities & Data Mining panel hosted by Architectural Record as part of their annual Innovation Conference. Charlie Catlett of the CI's Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) spoke on the panel alongside Anthony Townsend of Instititue for the Future and Susan P. Crawford of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Because the New York City audience was largely made up of architects, the panelists gave a broad overview of what data and computation means for the design of cities in terms of both real-time monitoring and long-term planning.
Planning for Chicago Lakeside will necessitate augmenting traditional tools with data and scientific computation, allowing developers to model the complex interplay between energy, waste and water infrastructures. To address this need, a collaboration between the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, the Computation Institute, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and McCaffery Interests will develop a prototype computational framework for Chicago Lakeside Development, called LakeSim.