Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, September 21 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Research Hall, Third Floor

Title: Slumulation: an Integrated Framework to Explore Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Slum Formations

Amit Patel, PhD
School of Public Policy
George Mason University

Abstract: Slums provide shelter for over 900 million people or nearly one third of world’s urban population, most of them in the developing world. Several policy actions have been taken to address this challenge since the 1950s. However, slum‐free cities remain a distant goal for many developing countries despite these policy efforts. Part of the problem is the lack of analytical tools available to conduct slum research and policy experimentation. We develop an analytical framework, named Slumulation, capable of exploring the spatio-temporal dynamics of slum formation in developing world cities. Slumulation is designed to serve as a decision support tool for urban planners and policymakers that could be used to evaluate policy ideas and ask what-if questions in a simulated environment with minimal data requirements. The framework integrates Discrete Event Simulation (DES), Agent-based Modeling (ABM) and Geographic Information System (GIS) to explore the following questions: (i) how do slums form and expand, (ii) where and when do slums develop and, (iii) what types of structural changes and/or policy interventions could improve the housing conditions for urban poor? DES governs population dynamics, ABM governs housing dynamics and GIS provides a multi-scale spatial environment within Slumulation. There are three types of agents that influence the emergence or sustenance of the slums in the city: the households, the developers and the politicians, each of them playing distinct roles. The spatial environment consists of housing units at the micro-scale and electoral wards with multiple housing units at the macro-scale. The slums emerge as a result of human-environment interaction processes and inter-scale feedbacks within Slumulation. The framework is applied to Ahmedabad, India to exemplify the application of Slumulation for a real world city.

Slumulation integrates Discrete Event Simulation (DES), Agent‐Based Modeling (ABM) and Geographic Information System (GIS) into a single framework to explore slum formation dynamics. Slumulation is used to explore questions such as i) how slums come into existence, expand or disappear ii) where and when they come up in the city space and iii) which processes may improve housing conditions for urban poor. Slumulation intends to serve as a decision support tool that could be useful for urban planners and policymakers to experiment with policy ideas in a simulated environment with minimal data requirement.