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Global Cities Study: Amsterdam, Boston, Barcelona, Munich, Stockholm

Revolutionizing urban planning with innovative, evidence-based city science techniques

Global Cities Study: Amsterdam, Boston, Barcelona, Munich, Stockholm


Aretian partnered with IESE Business School to conduct in-depth research to advance urban planning methodologies for cities including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Boston, Munich, and Stockholm. Utilizing a unique City Science approach, Aretian developed and applied advanced Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure and understand urban performance across multiple dimensions. The project aimed to uncover underlying patterns in urban and economic development, propelling the field with new insights into sustainable growth, innovation ecosystems, and quality of life improvements.

Aretian Global Cities Study: Stockholm - Amenities Heat Map

The Challenge

Urban planners and policymakers face significant hurdles in making data-driven decisions due to city systems' complex, multifaceted nature. Traditional models often fall short in addressing the intricacies of urban growth, economic resilience, and sustainable development. The project sought to analyze five identified core challenges for the five identified cities:

  1. Envisioning Sustainable Urban Design (Urban Design)

  2. Nurturing Urban Economics and Prosperity (Economic Development)

  3. Propelling Metropolitan Innovation Ecosystems (Research & Innovation)

  4. Shaping a Sustainable Mobility & Logistics Strategy (Mobility & Logistics)

  5. Providing Quality Housing and Access to Services and Amenities (Housing and Standard of Living)

Aretian Global Cities Study: Boston Urban Fractality Heat Map

Aretian's Solution

Aretian deployed sophisticated City Science methodologies for each of the five cities to address each of the five urban challenges:

  1. Urban Design: We measured city form fractality, density, and entropy for each of the five cities to evaluate urban performance and design efficiency. We discovered a 32% increase in efficiency with a doubling of fractality, indicating its significant impact on urban efficiency and social interaction.

  2. Economic Development: Aretian developed KPIs to assess economic sophistication and resilience. This analysis classified industries into four quadrants based on their complexity and competitiveness, offering insights into sectoral strengths and development opportunities.

  3. Research and Innovation: Aretian’s novel KPIs analyze knowledge economy activities across cities, focusing on research, tech transfer, and advanced production phases. This approach highlighted how Boston's geospatial concentration of innovation hubs fosters successful ecosystems.

  4. Sustainable Mobility Analysis: Aretian used network theory to assess public transit and mobility systems, identifying gaps and proposing integration strategies to enhance the sustainable mobility ratio, as seen in the efficient coverage in cities like Amsterdam and Stockholm.

  5. Housing and Standard of Living: We evaluated the distribution of amenities and services to align housing strategies with quality-of-life improvements, identifying how cities like Barcelona could optimize residential distribution and access to services.


With this study completed, Aretian now has the evidence and capabilities to easily:

  1. Identify how city form metrics such as fractality and density correlate with urban performance, enabling more effective urban design strategies.

  2. Guide cities to bolster high-value industries and improve resilience against economic fluctuations.

  3. Promote the effectiveness of innovation hubs in promoting economic growth and job creation through concentrated knowledge activities and tech transfer.

  4. Offer data-driven recommendations to improve public transit integration and reduce reliance on car-based transportation.

  5. Work with cities to apply 15-minute city concepts to improve access to amenities and optimize residential planning.

Aretian Global Cities Study: Munich - Product Space

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