Urban modelling: Progress and Remaining Challenges

posted in: Model Overview | 1

For the Tombolo project to be a success, it is critical that our digital connector and associated models satisfy the market need, and are positioned appropriately within that market. To aid this process, we have created an overview document, aiming to provide a broad understanding of how the urban modelling discipline has developed, and where it stands today.

The document will give insights into the following areas:

Historical progression of urban modelling: significant advances, challenges and achievements at each stage of development;
From the macro static models of the 1960’s, to the dynamic agent-based models of the 1990’s and beyond, urban modelling has made considerable strides, over the last 50 years.

Main drivers behind the progression of urban modelling;
Widespread urbanisation has created new social, environmental and economic problems. Along with the digital revolution creating new technological issues, urban modelling is needed more than ever to understand the implications of decisions around these areas.

Key users and applications of urban models;
With an increasingly diverse set of drivers, the breadth of users and applications for urban models is expanding.

Major problems still facing urban modelling today;
Despite the progress made, barriers still exist preventing the widespread application of urban models outside of the academic environment. Barriers include model complexity, data availability, model integration, policy relevance of model and disconnects between mode builders and users.


“Seven sins of large-scale urban models: hypercomprehensiveness, grossness, hungriness, wrong-headedness, complicatedness, mechanicalness, expensiveness”

— Douglas B Lee, 1973,
“Requiem for large-scale urban models”

Best practice recommendations for the Tombolo project;
This document should provide a backdrop of the discipline, against which we can start to position Tombolo. It is hoped that this document will help us focus our attention on tackling several of the major existing issues, and help us to avoid repeating any of the mistakes of the past.

The full document will be available shortly.

One Response

  1. Project update | Tombolo

    […] Another part of the initial phase was to carry out research on Urban Models. Initial investigation was done on the history of modelling and how it has developed over the years. This focussed on the progress in the field of Urban Modelling and identified current challenges (please see the separate blog post: Urban modelling: Progress and Remaining Challenges). […]

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