Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Busy Day: A Talk and NetLogo Tutorial

It is not often that I get to give a talk in one country and tutorial in another country, but thanks to COVID and the internet, that was today. First up I was invited to give a talk to the GIScience Research Group (GIScRG) at the Royal Geographical Society with IB, in the UK. The talk was entitled "Analyzing and Modeling Urban Environments Utilizing Computational Social Science: Opportunities, Examples and Challenge" which covered many of the topics that have been blogged here over the last few year. Below is the abstract to the talk and if this peaks your interest, the talk was recorded and is embedded here.

Abstract: The beginning of this century marked a milestone in human history. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population lived in urban areas. This trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future with 6.7 billion people projected to live in cities by 2050. This rapid urbanization will place unprecedented pressures on urban systems and their ability to provide basic of services. To plan for this future, we need to better understand the inherent complexity of urban systems from social, economic and environmental perspectives. In this talk, I will explore how such understanding can be gained through the lens of computational social science (CSS): the interdisciplinary science of complex social systems and their investigation through computational modeling (e.g. agent-based models) and related techniques. Through a series of example applications, I will demonstrate how new forms of geographical data (e.g. crowdsourced, social media etc.) not only provide us with a novel way of analyzing urban environments but how such data can be integrated into geographically explicit agent-based models. In addition, I will highlight that by focusing on individual, or groups of individuals, leads to more aggregate patterns emerging and show how model outcomes can be validated by such datasets. After these demonstrations, I will outline the challenges associated with this program of research, as using such data is not without its difficulties. Together, this work provides a brief overview of the current state of analyzing and modeling urban environments through the lens of CSS. 

I would like to thanks those who joined this webinar, especially those who asked questions. On a side note, the RGS-IBG GIScience Research Group YouTube Chanel also has a great number of talks relating to GIScience and Geographic Data Science which are well worth watching. 

Later in the day, Sara Metcalf and myself were invited to give a tutorial entitled "Introduction to Agent Based Models" as part of the University at Buffalo's Computational and Data-enabled Science and Engineering (CDSE) day. In this tutorial we introduced agent-based modeling, discussed a variety of applications and ran through a tutorial, that of creating the Schelling Segregation model in NetLogo.

Abstract: This session will introduce the method of agent-based modeling, give a tutorial, and discuss a range of applications. Agent-based models facilitate dynamic simulation of multi-scalar feedback mechanisms and interactions between heterogeneous individual agents and their environments. Agents may represent people, animals, organizations, or other kinds of discrete decision-making entities. Participants who wish to practice developing the agent-based models demonstrated in this session should install the free NetLogo software

For those who are interested, the tutorial as a PDF can be found at and you can follow along by watching the movie below.