“Fuzzy Math” Call For Essays: How Do We Actually Measure Cities?

Parking Lot In Las VegasWhat is the language of measuring cities, landscapes, or human behaviors? Urban Omnibus put forth a call for essays on “Fuzzy Math,” inviting writers “to infuse the quantitative language that pervades environmental understanding with narrative, theory, history, or humor.”

Beyond the metrics we already use to measure our cities, what are we missing? What ways can we quantify and measure actions, behaviors, politics, engagement, economics, and life in a city? What unseen dimensions and spatial parameters are critical for well-being (or quirkiness) within a city?

“Meanwhile, the cost of some of what we consume in cities – like real estate – is reflected in its price structure, yet a lot of it – like parking, parks, or pollution – is not. Even if the environmental benefits of urban density are starting to be understood, an accepted calculus of a city’s externalities remains far from precise, subsumed in a metaphorical language of carbon footprints or numerical valuations like LEED.”

“So let’s put it in personal terms. How do you measure your behavior: In rent? In square feet? The number of laps run around the park? MetroCard swipes? Brand of lightbulb? The distance food travels to end up on your plate? What are urban public goods – drinking water, open space, public access television, fireworks displays – worth to you?”

Deadline: Friday, March 22nd, 5:00PM EST.
See the call for submissions at Urban Omnibus.