“Starry Night: Van Gogh Meets Leeds”, an algorithm painting by Tom Blackwell. (Image by Tom Blackwell via Flickr) Picture this: A developer owns a plot of land in a gentrifying neighborhood.

Under current zoning codes, and with current market incentives, the best bang they could get for their buck is to build high-rise luxury apartments. But this neighborhood doesn’t need luxury apartments.

It needs a supermarket, and affordable housing for current, low-income residents. The existing zoning code isn’t designed to consider those needs.

It just states that this plot is zoned residential. Now, a group of researchers are working on a vision for a new type of zoning and a different incentive system that might be able to respond more dynamically to communities’ needs — using machine-learning algorithms, big data, and blockchain, the same technology underlying Bitcoin.

Under their system, someone would take an inventory of that same hypothetical neighborhood’s current housing stock, mobility patterns, demographics, amenities, energy consumption, and other factors. Then a simulation model would propose solutions to maximize residents’ wellbeing, using tokens — think cryptocurrency — as a new system of exchange. Read more from nextcity.org…

thumbnail courtesy of nextcity.org