Ariel Noyman Dissertation Defense


Ariel Noyman

Ariel Noyman

April 14, 2022
9:30am ET


An Urban modeling and Simulation Platform


Current mass-urbanization trends create vast opportunities alongside new challenges to cities worldwide. Immigration, climate change, technological disruptions, inequality, and health concerns, are only some of the questions urban decision-makers are facing today. As these challenges grow, traditional urban processes are rendered insufficient, as they trail behind rapidly expanding cities and technological disruptions.

In this dissertation I investigate a new urban process, which couples data-driven and evidence-based decision-making, with human-centric and participatory planning. I explore this new urban process through the design, development and deployment of CityScope: an urban modeling, simulation, and decision-making platform. From collaborative allocation of refugee-housing in Germany, through crowd-sourced mapping of public safety in Guadalajara, to mass-transit co-creation in Boston, CityScope helps to build agency amongst the have-nots, who traditionally were outcasted from the urban process.

I report on a series of lab experiments and real-world deployments of CityScope through four themes: Insight: CityScope as an urban observatory, using real-time spatial data and urban dynamics analytics; Transformation: CityScope as an iterative, collaborative, and real-time Urban Human Computer Interaction system; Prediction: CityScope for urban forecasting and simulation of implicit aspects in the built environment; and Consensus: CityScope for collaborative decision-making with diverse stakeholders and communities.

Finally, I describe how CityScope supported, enhanced, and occasionally replaced traditional urban decision-making, affecting both the urban process as well as its outcomes.

Committee members

Kent Larson
Director, City Science Group,
MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA

Prof. Eran Ben Joseph
Class of 1922 Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban-planning,
MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Cambridge, MA

Prof. Esteban Moro
Associate professor at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain),
Visiting Professor, Media Lab, MIT, Cambridge, MA


Ariel Noyman

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