Since the very origins of urban planning in the late nineteenth century, the field has aspired to establish a firm scientific footing for the nature of cities, their cycles of growth and decline, and ways that we can better plan and predict the outcomes of interventions through design and policy. While these efforts have long been stymied by a lack of sufficiently detailed data and limited computing power, these obstacles are rapidly being overcome. In response, a growing number of city governments and a new cadre of academic research centers are investing in data-intensive analysis and simulation of cities. While this campaign shares many similarities with computer-based efforts to study cities and inform urban policy during the United States’ urban crisis in the 1960s, the rise of the Internet presents new opportunities to involve citizens more actively, on a larger scale, and in more empowered roles than in the past. This development offers an opportunity to develop more transparent, ethical, and effective models for collaborative urban research involving universities, local government, and citizen science networks.

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