Maxime Colomb
PhD in Geomatics
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Building the Model of Los Angeles in a Comprehensive System

Nowadays, the city is the natural living place for the humans being. An increasing amount of people migrate to attractive poles for different reasons, and this phenomena appears all around the world. The City represents a spatial setting where material and human interactions are very complex and diverse. As for social, ecological and economic reasons, the city should be built to organize, optimize and provide all the flows within it. Taking decisions for the urban planners is becoming increasingly difficult because it is hard to predict the impact of a decision in this complex system where everything is linked.

The following scheme, proposed by A. Wilson, represents the main structure of how an urban area works and provides an effective representation of the city. Divided in subsystems, all of those models have different ways of working, but they are linked together by many different flows. It would be possible to program those subsystems and represent the interactions between them with GIS and its applications. Technology evolves, making information more accurate and closer to real-time. The need for a tool which tests such decisions on a real and personalized model is fast becoming a necessity and major challenge of the XXI century in order to build smarter cities.

I have studied these matters during an internship at the Megacities laboratory of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Largely based on the work of A. Wilson, I searched for solutions to apply those mathematical theories and modelize the city of Los Angeles. This period allowed me to discover the field of urban planning and the use of GIS as a powerful geographical tool. This has profoundly changed my professional projects. The internship report of this research period is displayed here

scheme of the city model

Scheme of the linked subsystems representing a city, by A. Wilson.

from Griffith Observatory
Los Angeles on a foggy day