Complexity in Urban Development and Management

Historical Overview and Opportunities


Address correspondence to:
Timothy M. Baynes
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Sustainable Ecosystems Division
Urban Systems Program
P.O. Box 310 North Ryde NSW 1670


Systems dynamics, cellular automata, agent-based modeling, and network analyses have been used in population, land use, and transport planning models. An overview of complex systems science as applied to urban development is presented, and examples are given of where the problems of housing people and anticipating their movements have been addressed with complex approaches, sometimes in concert with deterministic, large-scale urban models. Planning for cities today has additional environmental and social priorities in common with many topics that concern industrial ecology. The research agenda suggested here is that this, too, can be enriched with complex systems thinking and models to complement the often static assessment of environmental performance and better inform decision processes.