By Greg Lindsay
The Oregon city is the first to use IBM’s app to help cities figure out how policy can affect the lives of their citizens. But can any algorithm quantify the whole experience of city living?
Can the complexity of cities really be reduced to a single set of equations, as the physicist Geoffrey West claims, or even 3,000 of them? Is it really true, as West’s numbers would indicate, that Corvallis, Oregon–a city of 55,000 two hours’ drive south of Portland–is the most innovative city in America? Perhaps there’s something in the water, or it may have more to do with the fact that West’s model loves patents and Hewlett Packard’s Advanced Products Division is based there, along with its patent portfolio, one developed by thousands of researchers worldwide.