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Social Distancing and Behavior Modeling with Agent-Based Simulation

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Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS,volume 1465)


The research discusses applying agent-based simulation (ABS) technology to analyze the social distancing in public space during the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate design and planning decisions. The ABS is used to simulate pedestrian flow and construct the micro-level complexity within a simulated environment. This paper describes the various computational methods related to the ABS and design space under the new social distancing guidelines. We focus on the linear phases of agent activities, including (1) environmental query, (2) waiting in a zone, (3) waiting in a queue, and (4) tasks (E-Z-Q-T) in response to design iterations related to crowd control and safety distance. The design project is extended to the agents’ interactions driven by a set of tasks in a simulated grocery store, restaurant, and public restroom. We applied a quantitative analysis method and proximity analysis to evaluate architectural layouts and crowd control strategies. We discussed social distancing, pedestrian flow efficiency, public accessibility, and ways of reducing congestion through the intervention of the E-Z-Q-T phases.


  • Agent-based simulation
  • Social distancing
  • Crowd control

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-19-1280-1_8
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  1. 1.

    “The simulated behaviors of cellular automation are often unpredictable and lack purposive planning goals….and the interactions among agents, complex social behavior cannot be simulated through space syntax.“ (Tang, 2018).

  2. 2.

    These semipublic, semiprivate places such as restaurants, bars, gyms, houses of worship, barbershops, coffee shops, post offices, main streets, beer gardens, bookstores, parks, community centers, and gift shops—inexpensive places where people come together, and life happens.

  3. 3.

    Oasys MassMotion is an advanced crowd simulation software that uses crowd modelling technology to provide leading technology to designers, operators and owners with clear information about crowding, usage patterns and occupant safety in a facility.


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Thanks to the students Sarah Auger, Maddison DeWitt, Brittany Ellis, Andy Failor, Lisa Garcia, Ashley Kasel, An Le, Hannah Loftspring, Kyle Munn, Deborah Park, Sabrina Ramsay, Haley Schulte, Brayden Templeton, Pwint Wati Oo (Audrey) participated the project in Fall 2021 at the University of Cincinnati. Thanks to UC Forward, Price Hill Will, and Meiser’s Fresh Grocery & Deli provided advice and support. Thanks to Nathan Deininger provided proofread and editing.

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Correspondence to Ming Tang .

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Tang, M. (2022). Social Distancing and Behavior Modeling with Agent-Based Simulation. In: Gerber, D., Pantazis, E., Bogosian, B., Nahmad, A., Miltiadis, C. (eds) Computer-Aided Architectural Design. Design Imperatives: The Future is Now. CAAD Futures 2021. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 1465. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-981-19-1279-5

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