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Case Study: Urbansim
Institution: University of Washington
Govt' Partners: Puget Sound Regional Council, Wasatch Front Regional Council, cities of Honolulu, Houston, Salt Lake City and Provo (Ut.)
Funded Since: 2001
DG Amount to date: $5.2 million
Other support: Federal Highway Administration, University of Washington's PRISM project, IBM, Oregon Department of Transportation
Abstract: See Project Profile | Additional project
dgOnline Article: "Forecasting Growth Patterns with a Real "SimCity""
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urban building Urban planners must forecast growth patterns to plan for infrastructure and land use policies, and need ways to evaluate alternate strategies before committing billions of dollars to them. In the past, time-consuming, coarse-grained computer modeling of census, transportation and housing data has produced relatively inaccurate predictions.
urbansim partner logos Working closely with urban planning organizations such as the Puget Sound Regional Council in Seattle, and the Wasatch Front Regional Council in Salt Lake City, and backed by Digital Government funding, University of Washington researchers developed more realistic, detailed and explainable models. The government agencies provided testbeds for the model development and use.
urbansim researchers In close collaboration with the government agencies, the scientists develop an initial design, then rework the prototype. They build a more robust, modular simulation platform that allows quick integration of new and better components, accepts different kinds of data, handles more complex real-world situations and survives expansion to model large cities with huge datasets and multifaceted growth problems.
urbansim graphic The Java-based Urbansim system has been applied in metropolitan areas ranging from Honolulu and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon to Houston and Salt Lake City, allowing planners to make more refined growth forecasts than ever before. It is open-source, and available on the Web at