Why You Should Take SimCity More Seriously (Portland Has!)

In 2009, IBM proposed to the City of Portland their new algorithm software, “The Smarter City” to aid in the creation of the city’s Portland Plan, to be released later this month. Now, at no cost, Portland is the first city to name the software their analysis software of choice. While the software is to present ‘what if’ ideas rather than outright statistics, the discovery of a perpetual loop has already been found;

“Running the model, Zehnder and his fellow planners found that obesity rates fell as the number of cyclists rose, which led to a further increase in biking. This knowledge proved useful both in formulating policy (more bicycle lanes, anyone?) and in creating metrics to measure their success down the road.”

Fast Company

I’m sure this will not be the only loop found within the algorithms, Portland or otherwise.

The article goes on to name the main reason for the new analysis medium’s adoption to be Portland’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, making bicycling and walking more attractive to fund and explore deeper. My thoughts on the adoption? Portland may be trying to gain its top place as the most bicycle-friendly city in the US, now that Minneapolis has a through-rain-or-sleet reputation. Minneapolis’s thoughts?

“Fuck Portland!” [Erik Noren] opines upon learning I am trying to discover why Minneapolis deserves top status over what would seem the logical choice. “All I ever hear is about how cool Portland is. Who rides through the shit we do? We ride more by accident than they do on purpose.”

Bicycling Magazine

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Maus/BikePortland.org with some rights reserved.

Another Minnesotan points out that you can get the same bike in Minneapolis for half that you would pay in Portland. I would agree on this for a cheaper kids’ bike to a serious road bike: it feels like hipsters have feathers, country clubbers have beamers, and Portland bicyclists have their vintage fix-up, bamboo-framed beauty, or state-of-the-art, thinnest-tires-you’ve-ever-seen commuter ride. But I digress…

My second thought was, “I HAVE TO PLAY WITH IT!” After finding the IBM site for “The Smarter City” software with a flash ‘interactive’ interface, I was pumped to nerd out on this- just hand me a 20 oz. Mt. Dew and turn off the lights for 3 hours. However, what I was greeted with a series of video ads explaining how glorious the software I couldn’t mess with- even in a minimal demo. Disappointment would be an understatement: time to play archaic SimCity 4 for now. (Maybe Portland should hire me in a couple years so I can mess with it for real!)


About Aascot Holt

Staff News Writer for the Easterner. Urban and Regional Planning Major. Senior. Has fingers in all proverbial pies.

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