Borrowing from nature to create self organising systems frameworks of big data to understand urban water systems

Peter J Coombes

Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia; Urban Water Cycle Solutions, Carrington, NSW, Australia


Our cities are complex systems that responded to multiple shocks during the last two decades including floods, droughts, fires, climate change, economic stress, variable political and governance decisions, and pandemic. These processes influence the behaviours of households, businesses and institutions which creates direct and feedback responses across the scales from property to region in urban water systems.

Meadows (2008) explained the next paradigm to understand future challenges and policies to intervene in an increasingly complex world as bottom up, hierarchical, self-organising systems frameworks of behaviour. Use of top down averages derived from a single scale, at spatial and temporal scales, in analysis of resources and economics was unlikely to reveal the potential for integration of policies or solutions within a system. Barry and Coombes (2018) confirmed this insight and highlighted the magnitude of unused big data available for research. Coombes and Barry (2015) summarised development, across two decades of applied research, of a bottom up and hierarchical Systems Framework of big data.

Crick and Watson (1953) revealed the function of four base pairs that order dynamic processes in DNA to reproduce structure and behaviour. These dynamic processes of copying genetic information and ordering in highly structured frameworks in multi-dimensional space can provide engineering tools (Albert, 2003). This coding structure of order and sequencing was utilised by the author to reproduce behaviour typologies and trigger changes in behaviour modes in bottom up systems framework models. These algorithms include base pairs of key environmental parameters that map big data from anthropological, ecosystem and economics sources within hierarchical frameworks to reproduce behaviours at different spatial and temporal scales. This mechanism is assisted by Nash (1950) equilibrium and non-parametric matching to resolve continuous changing (and unknowable) relationship to reproduce self-ordering systems behaviours. This paper will outline these algorithms for improving society choices using the last two decades of information from the Melbourne and Sydney regions.


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