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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Landmark development : gaming simulation framework for planning Ross, Gerald Howard Barney


Planners have generally failed to prevent the urban strife (including civil disorders, housing shortages, visual blight and rising pollution which characterizes so many North American cities. While they cannot necessarily be blamed for these occurrences, they cannot entirely be exhonerated. Planning techniques for guiding and controlling urban development have not kept pace with the rapid growth of our modern cities. Certain techniques have been borrowed from other fields, notably simulation modelling, but their use has frequently been hampered by a lack of data and by the high cost of implementation, furthermore, these techniques have generally failed to filter down to the Profession at large, with the result that they have largely remained the preserve of the technical expert who may not be in the mainstream of broader planning principles. The sophisticated nature of these techniques has promoted their isolation from the day-to-day planning processes. One alternative to a rigourous computer simulation is to employ a gaming simulation. The latter may permit a considerable simplication of the model by allowing the players (in this case, planners) to become ' simulation actors' who emulate the behavior of various interest groups or institutions in response to carefully selected rewards. This format has the advantage of precipitating the direct involvement of planners in the model and of facilitating their understanding of problems through the process of abstracting from reality. Such an abstraction is often conducive to the achieving of an overview; this may permit planners to be less distracted by the routine problems of planning administration, which are short term in nature, and to redirect their focus to longer term considerations. The purpose of this Study is to develop a gaining simulation framework for the analysis of planning problems which are not readily amenable to many quantitative techniques and for the evaluation of alternative planning strategies. This framework or tool is capable of incorporating a series of very simple interrelationships into a recursive process which will ultimately generate the implications of various decision alternatives and which will permit planners to identify optimum strategies. The framework incorporates the simulational features of a 'gaming simulation' and the strategy evaluating features of 'game theory'. The former have generally constituted abstractions from reality which were merely assertions in mathematical form but which were not particularly useful for either rigourous analysis or accurate forecasting. The lack of mathematical rigour in their structures has tended to inhibit their use for any but educational purposes, notably prediction and research. The latter have been confined to the identification of optimum strategies in only the most simple exchanges, which cannot generally be related to the complexities of the real world. This Study represents a step towards combining these two approaches. The gaming simulation framework, when 'primed' with appropriate data, will generate optimum strategies which may be followed by the participants. Its mathematical structure constitutes an amalgam of Markov processes, network analysis and Eayesian decision analysis. This technique is primarily designed to be used in the day-to-day planning process in large cities rather than in the cloistered research context, although it may later prove to have even wider applications. The null hypothesis is presented in the Study which states that the framework is not capable of generating an optimal solution. It was then refuted using probability theory to demonstrate that an -optimal solution was attainable. The use of the framework in the planning context was then illustrated by applying it to the specific public/private negotiations preceding major urban landmark developments in Canada.

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