Multiscale dynamics and emergent patterns in urban spatial systems
Nearly, half the world's population of six-and-a-half billion now live in cities, a substantial increase from the ten percent in 1900 that marks rapid and continuing urbanization at a global scale. Concomitantly, there has been growth in the spatial extent and diversity of cities with the erstwhile centralized city expanding into surrounding regions and transforming our most basic concepts of cities. This growth has been fostered by waning communication costs and increased global interdependence that have greatly strengthened the connectivity of local and global processes in both top-down (e.g., global manufacturing firms seek out low labor cost regions of the world) and bottom-up (e.g., natural locations attract households and spur economic growth) directions. The implication is that 21st century urban systems are even more likely to exhibit the characteristics of complex, nonlinear systems than their predecessors. This raises important policy questions about the management of these systems. Increased interactions can reduce the robustness of urban and natural systems by making them more susceptible to external shocks. Interactions can also lead to increased diversity of people or economic activity within a region, which can enhance robustness. Understanding urban spatial systems as complex, nonlinear and adaptive systems is, therefore, critical for fostering the sustainability of these systems and of the natural systems on which they depend.
Current urban and regional economic models