Dynamics Review Volume
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Since the committee, trained in traditional econometric modeling, would notaccept any of the model relationships without support from solid literaturereferences
published data, they essentially rejected everything. In respond-ing to
efforts, Forrester wrote:
It is unfortunate that you have not found it possible to spend more time with usin order to better understand system dynamics and its application to the dynamicmodeling of social systems. Many of
issues you raise seem to rest onassumptions that reflect practices in other kinds
modeling but which do notapply in the same way to system dynamics models. In fact, the strength of systemdynamics arises from these differences. (Forrester
In parallel to
work with the committee, we began the first practical appli-cation of urban dynamics in Lowell. Like many decaying New England towns,Lowell had ended a century of spectacular manufacturing growth with decadesof crumbling old age. In contrast to the committee’s criticism, the Lowellpolitical leadership embraced the model as
means to address its persistent
per cent unemployment rate.
Urban dynamics incorporates limited land availability as an explicit resourceconstraint. The “Land Fraction Occupied” hypothesis is embodied in
non-linear table function that relates the rate of new construction to the fraction ofland occupied by existing buildings. Early in its existence, city
hampered by a lack of supporting buildings and infrastructure.
much openland holds risks for entrepreneurs.
gradually developed, how-ever, the pace of growth quickens. Each newly constructed building adds tothe conviction of a prosperous future and
fuels more growth. Soon all of thebest sites are taken and the price of the remaining land soars. The rate of newconstruction begins to slow.
the last buildable sites are developed,
lackof open land and high land prices deters further construction. Only demolitionof existing structures can clear the way for further building.
equilibrium,construction balances demolition.With nearly all of its land occupied by old mill buildings and aging factories,Lowell could not rebuild a new industrial base without first demolishing theempty hulks. New jobs required open land and, in Lowell, there wasn’t any.Urban dynamics emphasized the need to make the most of every scrap ofpotential job-producing land. Lowell residents took that advice to heart.In one case they refused to rezone industrial land for
much-needed newhigh school. Three years earlier a defense firm had built
factory on clearedland adjacent to a new highway, This was the first new industrial facility inLowell in over two decades.
year later the government canceled the contract