Policy brief by Franz Gatzweiler: “Many problems of urban health and wellbeing, such as pollution, obesity, ageing, mental health, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, inequality and poverty (WHO 2016), are highly complex and beyond the reach of individual problem solving capabilities. Biodiversity loss, climate change, and urban health problems emerge at aggregate scales and are unpredictable. They are the consequence of complex interactions between many individual agents and their environments across urban sectors and scales. Another challenge of complex urban health problems is the knowledge approach we apply to understand and solve them. We are challenged to create a new, innovative knowledge approach to understand and solve the problems of urban health. The positivist approach of separating cause from effect, or observer from observed, is insufficient when human agents are both part of the problemand the solution.
Problems emerging from complexity can only be solved collectively by applying rules which govern complexity. For example, the law of requisite variety (Ashby 1960) tells us that we need as much variety in our problemsolving toolbox as there are different types of problemsto be solved, and we need to address these problems at the respective scale. No individual, hasthe intelligence to solve emergent problems of urban health alone….
- Complex problems of urban health and wellbeing cause millions of premature deaths annually and are beyond the reach of individual problem-solving capabilities.
- Collective and artificial intelligence (CI+AI) working together can address the complex challenges of urban health
- The systems approach (SA) is an adaptive, intelligent and intelligence-creating, “data-metabolic” mechanism for solving such complex challenges
- Design principles have been identified to successfully create CI and AI. Data metabolic costs are the limiting factor.
- A call for collaborative action to build an “urban brain” by means of next generation systems approaches is required to save lives in the face of failure to tackle complex urban health challenges….(More)”.