a)The city I chose to do the first part of this project was San Francisco. I was able to get the zoning maps off the internet to make my design of the city go more smoothly. I found that the simulation for the most part was fairly accurate to the actual city. The similarities between the actual city and the simulation are as follows. The zoning didn't require much changing once the city was up and running, the zoning that I copied from zoning maps worked quite well with the exception of the commercial density zoning and the lack of agricultural zoning. In addition, using the zoning for the city also allowed a sort of ease of traffic as there was not much congestion. However, there were some clear differences as well. First, the city called for a lot more agriculture, which I will speak further about in part C of this question. Second, I found that commercial density didn't fill out when done similar to the zoning maps, to fix this problem I had to reduce the density until the city built more citizens. This is easily explained by the fact that I was using recent zoning maps rather than zoning maps from 100 years previous, clearly the city needs to build a population before it could support such commercial density.
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b) No the most densely developed and populated places did not occur in the same areas. This was a common problem I was having with creating San Francisco. Because San Francisco depends on its busy ports for a lot of the cities commercial business it was hard trying to replicate that by creating only one city. The problem occurred mostly in the commercial density levels, there is a high commercial density around the ports of San Francisco, but I find although SimCity 4 does a good job simulating internal factors within a city the external factors such as the business that is created by the ports was not replicated, because of this, there was not nearly enough commercial density created. Furthermore, places in San Francisco that are densely populated due to tourism were also not conveyed.
c) My RCI Graphs state that there is a high demand for residential (in all forms of wealth) whereas a lower demand for both industry and commercial. This makes sense considering that in downtown San Francisco much of the space is taken by commercial zoning and industrial zoning around the water ( on the north east side). It isn't until you move further south west you encounter more residential zoning which is a relatively far commute (even though commutes inside the city were still considered "long" when scrolled over). In downtown San Francisco there is a lot of commercial zoning but very little residential so it would make sense that the simulator wants more residential zoning closer by.
d) For the most part I found that SimCity is pretty accurate when It comes to wealth distribution, especially in consideration of residential homes. For residential homes I found higher wealth properties were close to the university, or on raise terrain with a view and with low density, whereas lower wealth with higher density or if a landfill or other unpleasant structure was built nearby (I was unpleasantly surprised to see the land values drastically drop when I put landfill space on the only area not full; close to my low density housing, abruptly calling for a "load" for a previous build). I found that commercial zoning wealth was somewhat scattered with a higher wealth to be found in the center of the commercial zoning, something that reflects the actual city. However I found that my industry was more of a scatter between medium wealth to low wealth with little high wealth industry in the mix; this is a change from the real city especially considering its busy ports.
In the early stages of building a city in SimCity, I found that demand depends on whether it is residential, commercial or industrial. Firstly, there is almost always a demand for residential development, at first this requires low density within close proximity to work / an industrial or commercial zone. Similar can be said about commercial zones, there is a demand for low density commercial zones but almost none for medium and none at all for high. With reference to the Industry zones there are a small discrepancy.
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In industry, even from the very start of the game before any zones are built there is a need for agricultural and medium density industry. This is unlike the latter because at the very beginning of the game there is only a demand for low density commercial and residential zoning. I feel this is pretty accurate when looking at how cities are formed, usually it starts with a boom in some industry, in Vancouver's case the fur pelt industry, and from there agriculture and small industry allows the city to grow. However one difference from actuality is once the game starts in the early stages there is an immediate jump in terms of demand for residential property, even with only agricultural land and a small medium density industry there in immediately a demand for all types of residential zoning. This is a little different then what I would imagine happens in reality. With almost no commercial density and very little industry density, I doubt there is a great need for an influx of all types of residential zoning. In reality you would expect density to gradually climb due to labor demand and increased potential for money making.
The first step in accomplishing the building of a monocentric city is to create a flat featureless plane that the city will be built upon.
The second step is to determine a city center, located at the center of the flat plane; this is where all the jobs in this city will be located. To accomplish this I set a dense commercial center in the middle of the plane. From there I surrounded the commercial center with dense industry. Following that I surrounded both the industry and the commercial zoning with dense residential zoning. Then as you move further outside the city there is medium density residential zoning to low density residential zoning, followed by agriculture.
After letting the city build up for a few years (besides the several in game problems) looking solely at the land values of the city I found that from the center to the outside all land values were low income. Clearly this is not what I would expect, according to the ideals around a monocentric city as you move closer to the city center land values should increase due to the close proximity to the market and therefore lower transportation costs. This means that in the center of the city theoretically there should be high wealth businesses in the center going to low wealth, then high wealth industry going to low wealth, then high wealth residential going to low wealth and so on, stemming all from the distance to the center of the city. That goes to say that the zoning is the center of the city the more desirable it is and therefore those places go for the highest prices.
One important difference should be mentioned however, in the monocentric city there is supposed to be nothing impeding travel which includes no roads, however in this simulator it is impossible not to include roads and therefore roads were included. Do roads change the simulator to not coincide with the ideals of a monocentric city? I doubt it.
I found that cities that I created in SimCity are more successful if residential, commercial, and industrial zones are segregated. That goes to say that when I separated residential, commercial, and industrial zones they had a faster growth rate and a more filled out city was created. The degree to which this worked was fairly constant however of course there was some intermingling of two or more types which seemed to only affect land values of residential zones.
Currently I reside in white rock, while a relatively small city, the ideals of agglomeration economies applies. For instance, in white rock the main tourist attraction is the beach. Here because of expensive prices mostly only businesses reside on the strip and residential zones are found on the outer ring on the city borders. This is also seen in the simulation, it appears that if you locate both industry and commercial close together, or with the ability to easily travel between the two (with a port or a railway) the city is better off as a whole.
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For an overall basic equation in SimCity, R = C + I does work. However In terms of SimCity there are a lot of different variables that also apply when talking about residential demand. For instance, the density and quality also needs to be calculated into the equation as well as external factors such as health care, the cleanliness of the city, taxes, and education potential.
An example of this is best shown by setting the taxes of residential to 0 and maximizing the taxes of commercial and industrial zones to 20%. There will be a massive influx of people wishing to move to your city however you will lose a large core of your commercial and industrial zones. Because of these factors that can drastically change your demand function while lowering the demand for commercial and industrial it shows that due to externalities and government influence that the equation doesn't always work. With that said though all things equal R = C + I does roughly describe the games demand.
Assuming that after the tutorial and after adding more density to the city the city still remains overcrowded. At the end of chapter 4 the text explains how developers can improve utility in an overcrowded city. Essentially what it says is that a developer could create a desired city and charge effectively more to live there, those that could afford it would because it is desirable and those that couldn't afford it would have to find another city to move to. This would therefore alleviate overcrowding. To do so you first have to create a city that is desirable to live in.
When you take over the "big city tutorial" there is limited water resources, not enough power sources and little to no schools, police stations and firehouses. When you look under the desirability tab and under high value residential demand there is almost none. To fix this I first started by completing the underground waterways throughout the city making sure that everyone had enough water. Then I went on to put more power plants in the bottom right corner to concentrate pollution and unwanted smog. From there I covered the area in police stations, firehouses, elementary schools, high schools making sure that the whole plane was covered.
After doing this I was prompted with the option of building a university which I accepted. After completing this as well as adding some density in the projected less valuable areas, I raised the taxes on the lower range housing and lowered taxes on the higher range housing. After awhile the demand for lower to medium income houses dropped substantially while the demand for higher and wealthier houses remained just above even. This stemmed the overcrowding.
SimCity 4 is a useful tool in using concepts, theories and models from this course and applying it in the simulator to see the results. After using the program quite vigorously for this project, one question still remains, does SimCity 4 realistically depict the themes presented in the course? I found the game realistically depicts some aspects of the course; however, some aspects are left out completely. This will be shown by examining, first Agglomeration economies and how these type of economies are represented in the game; second, by looking at bid rent and the role it plays in the game; and third, looking at the attempt of a monocentric model in the game and if simulation depicts the same ideals when a monocentric city is created.
Agglomeration economies are used in urban economics to describe the benefits received by firms when being close together. This is based on the idea that when clustering together firms they experience competing of multiple suppliers, leading to a lower supply cost; greater specialization of the firms which raises efficiency; and division of labor, which leads to a specialized labor force and makes them more productive. Although most of these ideals are lost in SimCity 4, two that distinctly apply to the benefit of agglomeration economies are transportation lengths and the difference between segregation and mixture of commercial densities.
One definite advantage of agglomeration economies shown in SimCity 4 are transportation costs. This is a major development in the rush hour expansion that I haven't experienced in any of the other SimCity's. Basically, if the transportation length from commercial to industrial zones is long, firms will be less inclined to build there. This shows one of the basic ideals behind agglomeration economies. Lowering transportation costs is a major reason agglomeration economies are in existence because they're one of the limiting factors in a firm's profitability. By moving closer to your customers and suppliers it removes unneeded cost. Because transportation is a major issue in SimCity it is beneficial for there to be segregated but closely linked commercial and industrial zones. Therefore, the most desirable zones are those with low transportation costs.
Bid rent is maximum amount that a firm or household is willing to pay to occupy a distinct parcel of land. That goes to say that all other things being equal land goes to the highest bidder. This is also seen in SimCity 4. Although for the most part zones are better off in SimCity if they are segregated, if industry is closer to the commercial markets, and transportation costs are low then those are the most desirable places and should be rented out in such fashion. I found that this is applicable in SimCity 4.
Around the freight train station the industrial factories being built were of higher wealth and then moving poorer as you moved outwards into agricultural zones. This was also found for residential sites but for different reasons. The best residential sites were found to be those close to schools, hospitals, police stations, and firehouses. Transportation seemed not to play such a major role as it did for industry and commercial zones. However for those residential sites with low density zones around schools, hospitals, police stations, and firehouses, the wealth of the residents was much higher. It is interesting to note that residential houses that were closer by industrial and commercial sites actually went to less wealthy dwellers. This could because of pollution or increased density. However as long as the zones weren't directly beside each other, this seemed not to matter.
The model of a monocentric city is that of a city that has its commercial base on the inner circle of the city, which is the most desirable area; from there outwards commercial is followed by manufacturing, then residential zoning. For an earlier question I was asked to replicate a monocentric city and I think it is noteworthy to cover some of the problems that I found when doing so. The first problem I had was that there were no high wealth commercial, industrial, or residential residents. This could because none of the land was desirable because of its close proximity to other zones. This goes against the monocentric model that says that the most desirable should be those close to the center of the city. It is clear that the developers are not familiar with this part of urban land economics.
In conclusion, one very important thing to remember is that SimCity is a game, meant for entertainment. I found that throughout the process of making a city there was more an emphasis on "making money" then the actual structure of the city, this of course is because SimCity was created for an entertainment factor rather than for students to study urban land economics, although I did find it a useful tool. In deciding whether the developers had an idea of the finer points of urban land economics, I have no doubt that they have a consultant helping them but the problem arises on the complexity of building a city.
The challenge for developers is that have to make a challenging, realistic, and entertaining game that has to be playable for the majority of the population. The problem with including all the finer details of urban land economics is that; first, it could potentially make the game far to challenging for those who aren't familiar with urban land economics; and second, it could potentially take away from the entertainment value of the game. With that in mind, I wouldn't suggest changing the software at all, and to leave it in the urban land economics students to sift through what is realistic and what points the developers decided to leave out. Overall, I though the game was a great way to apply and observe some of the concepts I've learnt in urban land economics thus far.