Pete Allen @ DACAS 3: The Co-Evolving Complexity of Cities: Towards Sustainability?

The Co-Evolving Complexity of Cities: Towards Sustainability?

Abstract: This presentation will elaborate the view that cities as complex systems are typified by co-evolutionary behaviour and organization. As a consequence, cities change, adapt and maintain rich, diverse and varied strategies, sub-optimal behaviours, imperfect information, mistaken inferences and creativity. In particular their dynamic spatial structures change as a result of the co-evolution not only of residences, meeting and working places, transport and communication networks, and leisure activities,
but also the ideas, thoughts, desires and aspirations of their populations. The study of cities and regions as evolving complex systems was begun in the 1970s, with dynamic simulation models of cities and regions together with their land-use and transportation systems, and with studies of the evolution of single cities, regional city systems and urban hierarchies. Today, we are faced with the issue of sustainability as the effects of our successful growth lead to real questions of material and energy resources and of emissions and potential catastrophic climate change impacts. An agent based model has been developed of at least 10,000 randomly chosen households in terms of four domains: Living, Food, Mobility and Energy. The model looks at the adoption of possible innovations that can take us towards more sustainable lifestyles. The model explores changes in living space, occupancy and architecture, improved insulation, much reduced use of cars, increased community living, and the adoption of renewable energy production and the decentralization of the energy system. We will see some early results of the model and look at the prospects of ever attaining sustainable lifestyles. Hopefully these models of Cities as complex, evolving systems can help guide policy and decision making towards possible, realistic trajectories into the future that will allow the survival of our civilization.

Peter Allen , Complex Systems Research Centre, Cranfield University. founded the Complex Systems Research Centre that is
now headed by Dr Liz Varga. The Centre is and has been involved in a wide range of research projects. Peter’s research has demonstrated the relevance of complex systems modelling for many domains: ecology and ecological modelling; natural resource management; urban and regional systems; economic markets and the strategies of firms; for organizational structures as well as distribution and supply chains and networks. This work is continuing as there is now more understanding and demand for bottom-up, learning models for decision support of many kinds. Recent research projects include: an EPSRC funded research project
with De Montfort University on creating Smart Grid models to help policies and infrastructure decisions for future energy production and distribution; and an ESRC funded joint project with Sheffield University “Modelling the Evolution of the Aerospace Supply Chain”. Currently he is involved in the Falcon project with the IVHM Centre in Cranfield developing models
relevant to the management of local electricity supply networks faced with growing demand for (low carbon) electricity. Another current project concerns the development of models to examine the way that multi-utility service firms may provide satisfactory levels of comfort with reduced resource demands. Peter is Editor in Chief of the journal Emergence: Complexity and Organization.

He has a PhD in Theoretical Physics, was a Royal Society European Research Fellow 1969 – 71 and a Senior Research Fellow at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles from 1972 – 1987, where he worked with Nobel Laureate, Ilya Prigogine.
Since 1987 he has run two Research Centres at Cranfield University. For over 40 years Peter has been working on the mathematical modelling of change and innovation in social, economic, financial and ecological systems, and the development of integrated systems models linking the physical, ecological and socio-economic aspects of complex systems as a basis for improved decision support systems. A range of dynamic integrated models has been developed in such diverse domains as industrial
networks, supply chains, river catchments, urban and regional development, fisheries and also economic and financial markets.

Professor Allen has written and edited several books and published well over 200 articles in a range of fields including ecology, social science, urban and regional science, economics, systems theory, and physics. He has been a consultant to the Cambridge Econometrics, the Asian Development Bank, the Canadian Fishing Industry, Elf Aquitaine, BT, GlaxoSmithKline, DERA, DSTL, the United Nations University, and the European Commission.

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Videos | January 6, 2017 12:01 pm