Program

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Lecture titles & abstracts

José S. Andrade

Title
Are large cities less green, less healthy and more dangerous? 

Abstract 

In the first lecture, we initially explore how urban quality varies with city size, focusing on carbon dioxide emissions. Our bottom-up approach merges microscopic data on population and carbon dioxide emissions across the continental US. Initially, we aggregate nearby settlements into cities using the City Clustering Algorithm (CCA), which defines cities beyond their administrative boundaries. Subsequently, we employ data on CO2 emissions at a fine geographic scale to ascertain the total emissions for each city. We observe a superlinear scaling pattern, characterized by a power-law relationship between CO2 emissions and city population across all US cities. This remarkable finding implies that the higher productivity of larger cities comes with disproportionately higher emissions than smaller cities. Moreover, our findings significantly diverge from those based on the standard administrative definition of cities, such as the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). In contrast, MSAs show isometric scaling of emissions, and we suggest this difference arises from the overestimated areas of MSAs. These results indicate that allometric studies using administrative boundaries to define cities might be affected by endogeneity bias. We also use similar methods and ideas to expand our analysis, investigating how city size affects lethal violence and public health in urban areas.

Assessing the resilience of a road network is instrumental to improve existing infrastructures and design new ones. In the second lecture, we apply the optimal path crack model (OPC) to investigate the mobility of road networks and propose a new proxy for resilience of urban mobility. In contrast to static approaches, the OPC accounts for the dynamics of rerouting as a response to traffic jams. Precisely, one simulates a sequence of failures (cracks) at the most vulnerable segments of the optimal origin-destination paths that are capable to collapse the system. Our results with synthetic and real road networks reveal that their levels of disorder, fractions of unidirectional segments and spatial correlations can drastically affect the vulnerability to traffic congestion. By applying the OPC to downtown Boston and Manhattan, we found that Boston is significantly more vulnerable than Manhattan. This is compatible with the fact that Boston heads the list of American metropolitan areas with the highest average time waste in traffic. Moreover, our analysis discloses that the origin of this difference comes from the intrinsic spatial correlations of each road network. Finally, we argue that, due to their global influence, the most important cracks identified with OPC can be used to pinpoint potential small rerouting and structural changes in road networks that are capable to substantially improve urban mobility. Finally, we present evidence supporting the idea that human mobility in large cities can serve as a proxy for crime and investigate its effect on disease transmission.

 

Marc Barthelemy

Title
Parsimonious modeling of cities.

Abstract
Modelling the structure and evolution of cities is critical because policy  makers need robust theories and new paradigms for mitigating various important  problems such as air pollution, congestion,  socio-spatial inequalities, etc.  Fortunately and thanks to new technologies, the increased data available about  urban systems opens the possibility of constructing a quantitative ‘science of cities’  with the aim of identifying and modelling essential phenomena in a parsimonious way.  In these lectures, I will illustrate this approach on various aspects of cities comprising segregation, the dynamics of urban populations, and mobility in cities though car traffic and the structure of subway networks.

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Matteo Colleoni

Title
Strategies for no-carbon and sustainable infrastructures and
mobility in urban environments

Abstract
The objective of the European climate law to achieve zero net emissions by 2050, in particular in the cities that are the largest emission centres, and even more so that of the Mission 100 climate neutral cities@2030 of bringing forward the decarbonisation targets to 2030, yes they are faced with obstacles that still limit their possibilities of implementation and make the activation of policies aimed at sustainable urban mobility increasingly urgent. The growing share of the population living in large urban areas makes this picture even more complex, since it brings with it a greater share of the mobile population, generally by private car, often with a significant age and level of pollution. Policies capable of reducing dependence on the car and increasing the diffusion and quality of infrastructures for active mobility are therefore necessary. These objectives can be achieved in different ways: leveraging limitation, transport integration and mobility management initiatives.

 
Marta Gonzales

Title
Planning and Modeling Urban Systems with Novel Data Sources

Abstract
My work explores predictive models for human mobility in urban systems, emphasizing the critical role of data and mobility metrics in their accuracy. Road usage patterns are analyzed, revealing a few driver sources significantly influencing major traffic flow, enabling a strategy for substantial travel time reduction. Another study identifies traffic collapse as a phase transition with three states and two distinctive transitions, marking the system’s breakdown. Percolation theory and the macroscopic fundamental diagram are applied to empirical traffic networks. Another lecture then demonstrates practical applications for sustainable transportation planning, utilizing phone-based travel demand and bike app data. The percolation theory helps prioritize bike paths based on potential demand, exemplified in Bogotá. Finally, I present a framework for facility allocation for the 15-minute city, with results suggesting a 50% reduction in travel costs through optimized facility redistribution. The findings provide a functional model for estimating the number of facilities required to achieve a desired average travel distance based on population distribution in a city.

 
Marco Grasso

Title The fossil machine: a descriptive and analytical tool to engage the fossil bloc in sustainability transitions

Abstract To address the challenges of sustainability transitions a new descriptive and analytical tool can be useful: the fossil machine.

The fossil machine allows to evince and display the parts of the powerful and widespread coalescence of the vested interests that revolve around fossil fuels and resist sustainability transitions: such parts in its descriptive role are its components and elements. At the same time the fossil machine is an analytical tool that clarifies how to disenable its elements and components’ fossil fuel finalized behavior through practices of destabilization and disruption and identifies their responsibility for the climate crisis and the consequent involvement of its elements in the restoration of a livable planet for all forms of life.

 
Caterina La Porta
& Stefano Zapperi

TBA

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Giuseppe Longhi

Phrasebooks for the complex city

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Carlos Moreno

Title
The revolution of proximities

Abstract
The Covid-19 crisis has shown the strength of cities because it is a systemic urban crisis of a sanitarian nature. Having to silence the city to avoid the spread of the virus shows the need to rethink our cities’ urban planning to favour economic, ecological and social value in the proximity. For facing against climate change in the long-term and COVID-19 in the short term, we need to radically change our urban lifestyle. Rethinking the long journeys in our cities and the concentrations associated with them is essential. We need to review our cities’ mono-specialized focal points and give greater impetus to the polycentric city. We have to go to the multipolar and multifunctional city. We need to provide extensive access to essential local services a priority, within a maximum distance of 10 to 15 minutes on foot or by bicycle, to create this new multi-center city. We called it in Paris ‘The City of proximities’, ‘The 15-Minute City‘.

Andrea Tilche

TBA

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Laboratories & Hand on activities

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Simone Caiello

Title
Objective and Subjective dimensions in urban accessibility perception

Abstract 
Accessibility in urban realms is nowadays at core of the attention of the scientific and public debate. In particular after the recent experience of the COVID19 pandemic the relevance of proximity to urban opportunities rose as a pivotal goal for the management and transformations of cities. A continuously growing body of accessibility measures has appeared mainly addressing objective and physical characteristics of spaces (Caiello & Bottini, 2020). Besides these a relevant role is also played by subjective perceptions of (Lanza et al., 2023), that, if correctly integrated in the more “traditional” approaches, can provide crucial data for a better evaluation of accessibility. The laboratory will target both these dimensions experimenting quantitative GIS approach and more qualitative methods.

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Luca Pappalardo

Title
Designing alternative routing strategies for urban well-being

Abstract 
Navigating a city’s road network poses a unique challenge: what is best for a single driver may not align with the collective good. While individualized routes may optimize personal travel time, their aggregation often exacerbates citywide traffic congestion and, thus, CO2 emissions. The conundrum lies in steering drivers towards efficient routes thus fostering excessive concentration on specific roads. The challenge is finding a way to guide drivers to fast routes without everyone piling up on the same roads. This lab invites you to come up with a smart routing plan and dive into how it affects the city and its transportation system. Your goal? Make routes that get people where they are going on time without turning roads into big traffic jams.