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5637Re: [carfree_cities] article on computer simulation

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Mar 9 5:30 AM
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      Hi All,

      This is fascinating. It's a project I've wanted to do for years,
      and here somebody has gone and done it!

      Alas, when I went to the web site, I couldn't find a working link
      to the game; I found the link, but it's not clickable. I've got my
      security setting very high. Has anyone been able to make this work?

      Thanks & regards,

      >An interesting article from the January / February 2003 Issue of Utne
      >magazine on a computer program for simulation of urban environments.
      >The URL:
      >The article:
      >Utopia 2.0
      >Play games, build a future
      >—By Leif Utne , Utne magazine
      >January / February 2003 Issue
      >What happens when people with different political beliefs are given
      >the chance to shape the future of their communities with a click of a
      >mouse? The answer, surprisingly, is that they seek the same things.
      >They may cheer different candidates in life, but put them in front of
      >a computer simulation and virtually everyone designs a scenario that
      >spares their hometowns from pollution, sprawl, and crime.
      >“Sustainability,” says Dave Biggs, “is what people choose when they
      >understand the consequences of their choices.”
      >Biggs, a systems manager at the University of British Columbia’s
      >Sustainable Development Research Institute, helps people of different
      >philosophical backgrounds forge a common future with an innovative
      >Web-based game called QUEST, which lets tens of thousands of users
      >model and reshape the future of the towns where they live. In the
      >process, writes James Hrynyshyn in New Scientist (July 27, 2002), they
      >may be changing the future of urban planning and democratic decision
      >In the early ’90s, Biggs and his research partner Jim Robinson faced a
      >formidable challenge. They knew that if their hometown of Vancouver
      >didn’t start making some hard choices, environmental problems like
      >smog, sprawl, and water pollution would soon do irreparable harm to
      >the quality of life in the region. They had the data and the models
      >to prove it. The problem was how to sell the idea to politicians and
      >the public in a way that got people thinking long-term and then acting
      >on it.
      >Then they discovered SimCity, the popular computer game that turns
      >players into urban planners of fictitious cities, advising them: “As
      >long as your city can provide places for people to live, work, shop,
      >and play, it will attract residents. And as long as traffic,
      >pollution, overcrowding, crime, or taxes don’t drive them away, your
      >city will live.” Following that advice, Robinson and Biggs set about
      >creating a game that would allow players to do the same for real
      >The first working model of QUEST is based on the Georgia Basin, the
      >region surrounding Vancouver. Since its launch in late 2000, writes
      >Hrynyshyn, more than 30,000 people have played the game on the Web
      >The game lets users tweak dozens of variables, from land use zoning,
      >and tax codes to air and water quality, transportation, and health
      >care spending, then calculates what Vancouver will look like in 2040
      >based on those choices. Using a process they call backcasting, the
      >game lets the player go back and change their choices over and over
      >until they reach a future they want. Once they settle on a scenario
      >they like, QUEST records the model and passes it on to government
      >One of the most interesting results of this process, says Biggs, is
      >that the game cuts through the traditional ideological lines that make
      >it so difficult to advance sustainable policies. Conservative players
      >realize the value of pristine forests and clean air, just as most
      >environmentalists acknowledge the importance of public safety and
      >economic development. Invariably, he notes, when players can see the
      >effects of their choices, they opt for a far greener future than
      >anyone would consider politically possible.
      >Several U.S. cities are interested in creating their own versions of
      >the game, and QUEST has drawn international attention, too. The World
      >Bank recently funded a project in Mexico City, and officials in such
      >far-flung places as Bangalore, India, Curitiba, Brazil, Romania, and
      >Bali are using the game to involve citizens in their planning
      >The resort town of Whistler, British Columbia, is taking it a step
      >further, using QUEST in a series of townhall meetings to let residents
      >craft the community’s long-range growth plan. If things go as planned,
      >the city council could adopt the public’s recommendations as law.
      >The only drawback to this kind of direct democracy, Hrynyshyn wryly
      >points out, is that when we are all town planners, “we will have
      >nobody to blame but ourselves when the buses don’t run on time.”
      >Chris Miller
      >Christopher Miller
      >715 ouest, boul. Jacques-Cartier
      >Longueuil QC
      >J4L 2S2
      >+1 514 995-0185 (mobile)
      >+1 514 987-3000 x 2361# (office/bureau, Montréal)
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      Drop Bush
      Not Bombs

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      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
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