IPER is a multi-disciplinary project funded by the UPF Wellbeing initiative that aims to create a simulator of several interconnected models using systems modelling tools, specifically agent-based simulations. In this first prototype, will concentrate mainly on air pollution, health and transportation in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. In order to determine the effects of different policies on this complex network of interactions, we will use massive scale agent simulation with advanced reinforcement learning methods. This will help all interested parties, being them academic researchers, policymakers or interested private companies to gain insights on the longterm effects of a policy. 

 

Air pollution, urban mobility and city planning have large impacts on public health, but there are no comprehensive models, methods and tools readily available that can be used to quantify their effects. Thus, the policymaker finds himself in a dilemma: he does not know for sure which actions will lead to a better future, yet he must decide as if he knew the answer.

Every action, even the decision not to act, will affect the future in potentially very significant ways. For this reason, it is important to fully elucidate the pathway linking urban and transport planning with public health to substantiate and effectively target policy-making actions. We think that this project could help in three different ways to facilitate the generation of insights needed for effective policy-making.

  • At first, by requiring that the models are implemented in a simulation process, IPER ensures that the definitions of the model are fully specified and that all hypothesis and limitations are clear and explicit.
  • Second, it will incentivize the creation of a repository of different models that could be used together, paving the way to a tighter collaboration between the different disciplines involved both internally and external to UPF such as economics and social science. 
  • Finally, the focus on quantifying the effect of a given policy in scenarios, helps to compare the predicted effect of different options in an objective way.

Reducing the risk and uncertainties related to committing to a specific course of action is IPER's objective and its primary transforming aspect. This contributes to the resolution of the problems and challenges of actual society because it aligns with the vision of living well within the limits of the planet. Underlying this vision is a recognition that economic prosperity and well-being is intrinsically linked to its natural environment. Despite the environmental improvements of recent decades, the challenges that we face today are considerable.

We hope that with the realization of this project, we will make a small step towards facing them in the correct way, shaping a better future for ourselves and for those who will come after us.