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Cities develop similarly to biological systems, says Gabriele Manoli

02.05.2024 11:37

The Journal of the Royal Society Interface has published a paper lead-authored by Branco Weiss Alumnus Gabriele Manoli. In this article, Dr. Manoli and his co-authors provide a novel description of urban growth by reformulating classical theories on population dynamics, urban economics, and branching transport networks.

The authors show that the space–time evolution of population density in London and Sydney over the past two centuries is regulated by the growth of a hierarchical transport system. Such dynamics can be described by a partial differential equation accounting for exogenous growth, spatial attractiveness, and diffusion, coupled with an adaptive network evolution model. This new approach can be employed to investigate future urbanization patterns based on transport planning choices and, in the future, it can help assessing the impact of urban growth scenarios on various livability indicators like walkability, pollution, or health.

“Our results show that, at a macroscopic level, such complex urban dynamics can be described by simple rules and governing equations thus opening up the possibility of exploring future scenarios of change in a more effective and scientifically sound way—a crucial step to address the pressing issues surrounding urban development and its sustainability and health targets,” the researchers write.

Read the paper in Journal of the Royal Society Interface

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