UrbanSim is a simulation platform for supporting planning and analysis of urban development, incorporating the interactions between land use, transportation, the economy, and the environment. UrbanSim leverages state-of-the-art urban simulation, 3D visualisation, and shared open data to empower users to explore, gain insights into, and develop and evaluate alternative plans to improve their communities
|SWOT Analysis for
|Strengths• Simulation platform for supporting planning and analysis of urban development, incorporating the interactions between land use, transportation, the economy, and the environment.
• Leverages state-of-the-art urban simulation, 3D visualisation, and shared open data to empower users to explore, gain insights into, develop and evaluate alternative plans to improve their communities
• Cooperation with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to design software that allows staff to quickly evaluate a land parcel or a building’s suitability for affordable housing development, a timely project given the ongoing nature of San Francisco’s housing crisis
• UrbanSim created a tool called Penciler, which analyses in a matter of minutes if it would feasible for the city to turn a given property into affordable housing.
• Launched UrbanCanvas Modeler, the world's first cloud-based urban simulation platform.
|Weaknesses• UrbanSim team should explore the reinforcement of the initiative's relationship with social media; both as a way of identifying and collecting data and as a way of disseminating the project to citizens and stakeholders.
• Need for intermittent connectivity: if your internet connection is offline, you will not be able to access any of your applications, server or data from the cloud.
• Increasing pace of technological change and higher level of technical sophistication
• Downtime: As cloud service providers take care of a number of clients each day, they can become overwhelmed and may even come up against technical outages. This can lead to business processes being temporarily suspended.
|Opportunities• Need for tools that enable communities to understand the forces of change, and how local actions might improve outcomes for local communities, from the site level, to the neighbourhood, to the metropolis.
• Exploring transport and land use domains as well as urban design.
• Environmental issues (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions) have been motivating some projects (such as UrbanSim for Canada25); environmental planning is also quite relevant.
• Energy consumption and / or water consumption
• Modelling the impact of climate change
• Dealing with interdependencies among different policies (e.g. through complex systems science). The visualisation of the various interdependencies would be a very interesting research initiative.
• Could also be a catalyst for collecting, organising and (probably most important) enriching the globally available open / public data
• Explore the reinforcement of the initiative's relationship with social media; both as a way of identifying and collecting data and as a way of disseminating the project to citizens and stakeholders.
|Threats• Climate change
• Crises in housing affordability
• New technologies and business models disrupting transportation and housing sectors
• Massive disruptions from natural and man-made causes.
• Urge for large amounts of data: it is a great challenge to locate, collect and transform into a useful form the necessary (statistical, demographic, etc.) data.
• Real estate markets, but also transport systems, are rather different from place to place. Thus, another challenge is to ascertain that the UrbanSim models are flexible enough to fit the various needs.