Detecting Signatures of Socio-Ecological Innovation in Urbanizing Regions

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Principal Investigator: 
Marina Alberti, University of Washington
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The goal of this workshop is to assemble a team of interdisciplinary scholars and researchers to articulate a research design and develop a research proposal to explore the interactions between social and ecological networks in urbanizing regions. We aim to analyze and quantify the relationships between biophysical, social, and technological characteristics of urban systems and their socio-ecological innovation. We ask: Are there general properties of a city’s socio-ecological structure that predict their adaptive, innovative, and transformative capacity? Understanding the complex relationships between urban development and socio-ecological innovation is critical to create effective policies toward urban resilience and sustainability.

To begin this process, we address two questions:

  1. Do indicators of socio-ecological innovation scale non-linearly with city size (measured via population/population density) and other city’s properties?
  2. How do scaling relationships vary with patterns of urbanization and their heterogeneity?

The workshop will focus on the selection of a number of indicators of socio-ecological innovation using available disaggregated data from U.S. and other world metropolitan areas. To test the sensitivity of scaling relationships to urban structure and heterogeneity we propose to create a synthetic data set and use simulation methods for a set of socio-ecological indicators. We will pilot test these functional socio-ecological indicators and investigate the fruitfulness of the proposed approach using multiple simulations. The presence of time series for remote-sensing and highly disaggregated and spatially-explicit socio-ecological data also allows for the possibility to investigate the consistency of the proposed relationships over time, using identical analytical techniques. The end goal of the project is to provide insights to guide urban planning and policy making.

Michael Barton, Arizona State University
Kimberly Baugh, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Luis Bettencourt, Santa Fe Institute
Kathleen Cagney, University of Chicago
Adam Frank, University of Rochester
Gourab Ghoshal, University of Rochester
Kevin Gurney, Arizona State University
Jim Heffernan, Duke University
Darrel Jenerette, UC Riverside
José Lobo, Arizona State University
Elizabeth Roberto, Princeton University
Markus Schlapfer, Santa Fe Institute
Stanislav Sobolevsky, New York University
Meredith Steele, Virginia Tech
Philippe Vaillant, University of Washington
Tianzhe Wang, University of Washington
Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute

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