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Dr. Paul M. Torrens, Department of Geography, University of Maryland, torrens at geosimulation dot com

Simulating sprawl

Project overview | Demonstrations | Support | Related groups
Project overview

Suburban sprawl is among the most important urban policy issues facing contemporary cities. Sprawl is a relatively recent phenomenon, brushing over the landscape with unprecedented rates of growth; a well-accepted rationale for explaining—and managing—its causes have not yet been settled upon. Our contention, here, is that geography is instrumental to consideration of sprawl and that geographical explanations offer much potential in informing the debate about sprawl. Similarly, spatial simulation could support sprawl-related research, offering what-if experimentation environments for exploring issues relating to the phenomenon. Sprawling cities may be considered as complex adaptive systems and this warrants use of methodology that can accommodate the space-time dynamics of many interacting entities.

 
Automata tools are well-suited to representation of such systems, but could be better formulated to capture the uniquely geographical traits of phenomena such as sprawl. By means of illustrating this point, the development of a model for simulating the geographic dynamics of suburban sprawl is explored. The model is formulated using geographic automata and is used to develop three sprawl simulations. The implications of those applications are discussed in the context of exploring geographic explanations of sprawl formation and potential for managing sprawl by geographic means. These efforts are related to our work on simulating sprawl, modeling residential mobility, and simulating gentrification dynamics.
Demonstrations
 
Simulating urban growth (you will need the Adobe Flash Player plug-in for your browser to view this movie)
 
Support
Torrens, P.M. (2000-2004) “Sprawlsim”. UK Economic and Social Research Council (Postgraduate Studentship)
Related groups
Environmental Simulation Laboratory, Tel Aviv University
Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London
SLUCE Project, University of Michigan
Center for Urban Simulation and Policy Analysis (Urbansim), University of Washington
Project Gigalopolis, NCGIA, UC Santa Barbara
Environmental Simulation Center, New York
Urban Ecology Research Laboratory, University of Washington
Complex Systems Research Centre, Cranfield University
HEGIS Lab, University of Minnesota
Digital Phoenix, Arizona State University

 

Projects >>

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