Skip to main content

UrbanPop: A spatial microsimulation framework for exploring demographic influences on human dynamics...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Applied Geography
Publication Date
Page Numbers
102844 to 13

Ensuring the social equity of planning measures in social systems requires an understanding of human dynamics, particularly how individual relationships, activities, and interactions intersect with individual needs. Spatial microsimulation models (SMSMs) support planning for human security goals by representing human dynamics through realistic, georeferenced synthetic populations, that a) provide a complete representation of social systems while b) also protecting individual privacy. In this paper, we present UrbanPop, an open and reproducible SMSM framework for analysis of human dynamics with high spatial, temporal, and demographic resolution. UrbanPop creates synthetic populations of demographically detailed worker and student agents, positioning them first at probable nighttime locations (home), then moving them to probable daytime locations (work/school). Summary aggregations of these populations match the granular detail available at the census block group level in the American Community Survey Summary File (SF), providing realistic approximations of the actual population. UrbanPop users can select particular demographic traits important in their application, resulting in a highly tailored agent population. We first lay out UrbanPop's baseline methodology, including population synthesis, activity modeling, and diagnostics, then demonstrate these capabilities by developing case studies of shifting population distributions and high-risk populations in Knox County, TN during the global COVID-19 pandemic.