Urban Studies & 

Agent-Based Modeling


Call for Abstracts: Session(s) on Geosimulations for Addressing Societal Challenges AAG2024

Oct 2023 - As part of The 10th Anniversary Symposium on Human Dynamics Research which will take place at the 2024 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii between Tuesday, April 16 – Saturday, April 20, 2024 we are organizing a session(s) on Geosimulations for Addressing Societal Challenges. If the session description is of interest, please feel free to submit an abstract (details are below).

Session Description:
There is an urgent need for research that promotes sustainability in an era of societal challenges ranging from climate change, population growth, aging and wellbeing to that of pandemics. These need to be directly fed into policy. We, as a Geosimulation community, have the skills and knowledge to use the latest theory, models and evidence to make a positive and disruptive impact. These include agent-based modeling, microsimulation and increasingly, machine learning methods. However, there are several key questions that we need to address which we seek to cover in this session. For example, What do we need to be able to contribute to policy in a more direct and timely manner? What new or existing research approaches are needed? How can we make sure they are robust enough to be used in decision making? How can geosimulation be used to link across citizens, policy and practice and respond to these societal challenges? What are the cross-scale local trade-offs that will have to be negotiated as we re-configure and transform our urban and rural environments? How can spatial data (and analysis) be used to support the co-production of truly sustainable solutions, achieve social buy-in and social acceptance? And thereby co-produce solutions with citizens and policy makers.

We are particularly interested in presentations that will discuss issues relating to:

Next Steps:

If this sounds of interest, please e-mail the abstract and keywords with your expression of intent to Richard Jiang (njiang8@buffalo.edu) by November 9th (one week before the AAG session deadline). Please make sure that your abstract conforms to the AAG guidelines in relation to title, word limit and keywords and as specified at: https://aag.secure-platform.com/aag2024/page/abstracts/abstract-guidelines

An abstract should be no more than 250 words that describe the presentation’s purpose, methods, and conclusions. 


Leveraging Newspapers to Understand Urban Issues:

A Longitudinal Analysis of Urban Shrinkage in Detroit

Jan 2023 - Today we are awash with data, especially when it comes to studying cities from a diverse data ecosystem ranging from demographic to remotely sensed imagery and social media. This has led to the growth of urban analytics providing new ways to conduct quantitative research within cities. One area that has seen significant growth is using natural language processing techniques on text data from social media to explore various issues relating to urban morphology. However, we would argue that social media only provides limited insights when dealing with longer-term urban phenomena, such as the growth and shrinkage of cities. This relates to the fact that social media is a relatively recent phenomenon compared to longer-term urban problems that take decades to emerge. Concerning longer-term coverage, newspapers, which are increasingly becoming digitized, provide the possibility to overcome the limitations of social media and provide insights over a timeframe that social media does not. To demonstrate the \textcolor{red}{utility of newspapers for} urban analytics and to study longer-term urban issues, we utilize an advanced topic modeling technique (i.e., BERTopic) on a large number of newspaper articles from 1975 to 2021 to explore urban shrinkage in Detroit. Our topic modeling results reveal insights related to Detroit’s shrinkage. For example, the 2008  side effects of economic recessions on Detroit’s automobile industry, local employment status, and the housing market” Time period of shrinkage is captured by the model. As such, this work demonstrates the potential of utilizing newspaper articles to study long-term urban issues.

Paper: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/23998083231204695

From Agent-Based Model to Digital Twins

Jan 2022-Urban digital twins can be created by utilizing the combination of ABM, synthetic population and other computational methods (e.g., machine learning).

Generation of Reusable Synthetic Population and Social Networks

July 2021Within agent-based models, agents interact with each other (e.g.,  social networks) and their environment, and it is through such interactions more aggregate patterns emerge (e.g., disease outbreaks, traffic jams). While the popularity of agent-based modeling has grown, one challenge remains, that of creating and sharing realistic synthetic populations which incorporate social networks. To overcome this challenge, this paper introduces a new approach that creates a reusable synthetic population using the New York Metro Area as a study area. Our method directly incorporates social networks (i.e., connections within a family or workplace) when creating a synthetic population. To demonstrate the utility and reusability of the synthetic population and to highlight the role of social networks, we show two example applications: traffic dynamics and the spread of a disease. These applications demonstrate how our synthetic population method can be easily utilized for different modeling problems.

Exploring Urban Shrinkage via computational Approaches 

May 2021- I have participated in the ACM SIGSIM PAD conference by introducing my research related to Urban Shrinkage. This presentation is part of my dissertation proposal and mainly focuses on three main questions: 1) To what extent can urban shrinkage be raveled by applying social media analysis (i.e., sentiment analysis)? 2) How urban shrinkage emerges at the macro-level through the simulation of housing trades at the individual level? 3) How can patterns of shrinkage be measured through social media analysis and simulation?