"The city of Portland has served as a living laboratory during our year-long collaboration to explore how complex city systems behave over time. While other analytical approaches rely on breaking a problem down into smaller and smaller pieces, the model we've created recognizes that the behavior of a system as a whole can be different from what might be anticipated by looking at its parts," said Michael Littlejohn, vice president of strategy for Smarter Cities at IBM. "Using this model, the city of Portland can experiment with different scenarios to see how their decisions might affect various parts of the city over the next 25 years."
This collaboration with the city of Portland has also proven valuable for IBM. IBM is applying its experience and modeling capabilities developed in this collaboration with the city of Portland to create offerings that will help other cities leverage systems dynamics modeling capabilities to enhance their city strategic planning efforts. Based upon IBM's experience in working with and conducting assessments of cities around the world, they've found that strategic planning in many cities is still being done in stovepipes without a holistic view of impacts/consequences across systems. By leveraging systems dynamics modeling techniques, IBM will be able to help other cities plan "smarter".
The work on the model assisted the city in identifying drivers of change that are being incorporated into the city's strategic plan. This plan, called the Portland Plan, sets priorities for action by the city and other government agencies in Portland and sets 25-year objectives for these priorities. The priority areas are Economic Prosperity and Affordability, Education, Equity and Healthy Connected Neighborhoods. The results of the joint project with IBM are also informing a set of long range metrics the city will use to track progress on the Portland Plan.