Transportation in Agent-Based Urban Modelling

  • Sarah WiseEmail author
  • Andrew Crooks
  • Michael Batty
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10051)


As the urban population rapidly increases to the point where most of us will be living in cities by the end of this century, the need to better understand urban areas grows ever more urgent. Urban simulation modelling as a field has developed in response to this need, utilising developing technologies to explore the complex interdependencies, feedbacks, and heterogeneities which characterise and drive processes that link the functions of urban areas to their form. As these models grow more nuanced and powerful, it is important to consider the role of transportation within them. Transportation joins, divides, and structures urban areas, providing a functional definition of the geometry and the economic costs that determine urban processes accordingly. However, it has proved challenging to factor transportation into agent-based models (ABM); past approaches to such modelling have struggled to incorporate information about accessibility, demographics, or time costs in a significant way. ABM have not yet embraced alternative traditions such as that in land use transportation modelling that build on spatial interaction in terms of transport directly, nor have these alternate approaches been disaggregated to the level at which populations are represented as relatively autonomous agents. Where disaggregation of aggregate transport has taken place, it has led to econometric models of individual choice or microsimulaton models of household activity patterns which only superficially embody the key principles of ABM. But the explosion in the availability of movement data in recent years, combined with improvements in modelling technology, is easing this process dramatically. In particular, agent-based modelling as a methodology has grown ever more promising and is now capable of emulating the interplay of urban systems and transportation. Here, we explore the importance of this approach, review how transportation has been factored into or omitted from agent-based models of urban areas, and suggest how it might be handled in future applications. Our approach is to take snapshots of different applications and use these to illustrate how transportation is handled in such models.


Agent-based modelling Urban systems Urban modelling 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Advanced Spatial AnalysisUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Computational and Data Sciences, College of ScienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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