‘Situating’ Simulation to Model Human Spatio-Temporal Interactions: An Example Using Crime Events
Many social phenomena have a spatio-temporal dimension and involve dynamic decisions made by individuals. In the past, researchers have often turned to geographic information systems (GIS) to model these interactions. Although GIS provide a powerful tool for examining the spatial aspects of these interactions, they are unable to model the dynamic, individual-level interactions across time and space. In an attempt to address these issues, some researchers have begun to use simulation models. But these models rely on artificial landscapes that do not take into account the environment in which humans move and interact. This research presents the methodology for ‘situating’ simulation through the use of a new modeling tool, Agent Analyst, which integrates agent-based modeling (ABM) and GIS. Three versions of a model of street robbery are presented to illustrate the importance of using ‘real’ data to inform agent activity spaces and movement. The successful implementation of this model demonstrates that: (1) agents can move along existing street networks; (2) land use patterns can be used to realistically distribute agent's homes and activities across a city; and (3) the incidence and pattern of street robberies is significantly different when ‘real’ data are used.