Constructing and implementing an agent-based model of residential segregation through vector GIS

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In this article, we present a geographically explicit agent-based model (ABM), loosely coupled with vector geographical information systems (GISs), which explicitly captures and uses geometric data and socioeconomic attributes in the simulation process. The ability to represent the urban environment as a series of points, lines, and polygons not only allows one to represent a range of different-sized features such as buildings or larger areas portrayed as the urban environment but is a move away from many ABMs utilizing GIS that are rooted in grid-based structures. We apply this model to the study of residential segregation, specifically creating a Schelling (1971) type of model within a hypothetical cityscape, thus demonstrating how this approach can be used for linking vector-based GIS and agent-based modeling. A selection of simulation experiments are presented, highlighting the inner workings of the model and how aggregate patterns of segregation can emerge from the mild tastes and preferences of individual agents interacting locally over time. Furthermore, the article suggests how this model could be extended and demonstrates the importance of explicit geographical space in the modeling process.

Keywords: GIS; agent-based modeling; residential segregation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Computational Social Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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