About GeoDiverCity

GeoDiverCity : the program


  Cities are today the main form of occupation of the Earth’s surface by human societies, and their development, combining design and self-organisation, sets numerous challenges in terms of collective territorial intelligence. On the scale of national and continent-wide territories, or indeed world-wide territories for the largest, cities are interconnected by way of numerous networks, in particular economic networks, that make them increasingly interdependent and associate them one with another in a process of co-evolution within which they have to structure and adapt conjointly. It is also important to underline the existence of path dependence processes, whereby the mark of previous choices is retained over several centuries in urban morphology, and often over several decades in social or economic specialisations. The present project sets out to gather the main stylised facts making up our knowledge about the dynamics of complex urban systems that has been acquired from observation and different analytical modelling processes, and to use them in new simulation models so as to reconstruct the interaction networks making up these systems. These models will be validated using a multi-scale procedure based on temporal geo-referenced data bases. The generic model SIMPOP will be completed and transferred to an open and scalable simulation platform, and specific versions will be developed and tested for the main regions of the world. The ultimate aim is to provide a series of validated models able to provide medium-term forecasts of the way in which the main urban and global territorial balances will evolve, and to explore scenarios whereby these city systems might adapt to the policies enacted aiming to counter the effects of climate change.


The programm includes five projects :

Project 1 : Improvement of the Simpop model towards a new model: SimpopNetwork

Objective: as the Simpop2 model environment was defined as a homogeneous space, where cities could be located either randomly or according to their actual coordinates, we want to conduct a deeper exploration of the co-evolution of cities population and function by explicitly taking into account the design of a variety of networks in industrial systems of cities. A first step will consist in the explicit integration of the physical transportation networks (according to digital historical databases and including estimation of travel costs or duration) into the generic model Simpop. A second step is to compare the dynamics of simulated networks by SimpopNetwork with the dynamics of a few observed communication networks (research networks, investment networks and maritime transport network).

Project 2 : Scaling laws, urban specialisation and innovation waves

Objective: Testing of theoretical propositions concerning processes of innovation and activity substitution among cities in a system (hypotheses on scaling laws as the expression of urban specialisations and the dynamics of innovation waves), with detailed spatial-temporal data on the distribution of employment in all activities across cities (USA, France, South Africa from 1950 to 2000).

Project 3 : A simulation model for India and China

Objectives: A systematic analysis of the urbanised areas in India and China aiming at a formalised description and comparison of the style of urbanisation of the two very large countries. Implementation of a version of the SimpopNetwork model with a stepwise adaptation for each country. Steps of research include: collection and analysis of databases for cities in India and China (about 7000 or 8000 urban agglomerations in each country); extraction of stylised facts from data analysis for modelling; design of a simplified model for simulating the evolution of the two systems of cities during the next fifty years under various scenarios hypothesis.

Project 4 : From Simpoplocal to SimpopClim

Objective: exploring the effects of ecological constraints at local and global level of systems of cities: what makes up the dynamics of local resources, and the dynamics of innovation? Three steps: a simplified model in Netlogo for simulating the locally constrained dynamics of agrarian settlement systems ; this theoretical model for the dynamics of pre-industrial cities undergoing strong local ecological constraints will be implemented on archeological sites and tested; a new version of the model named SimpopClim designed to explore how sustainable urban development policies are liable to diffuse under different hypotheses of regulatory constraints aiming to reduce energy consumption and spare environmental resources.

Project 5 : Open scalable Modelling Platform

Objective: development of an open and scalable simulation platform for the Simpop models, integrating visualisation tools and automatic analysis of results (multi-scale sensitivity and validation tests), and a follow-up of experimentations