Moses: Planning for the Next Generation

Wu, Belinda and Birkin, Mark (2013). Moses: Planning for the Next Generation. International Review for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development, 1(1) pp. 17–28.



The study of population changes has always been at the centre of public policy and planning. People’s movements, interactions and behaviors will inevitably have an important impact on the society and environment that they are living in. At the same time, such changes will also lead to an evolution of the population itself over time. Advances in technologies and new tools often bring new visions to such studies. To facilitate strategic decision making and to plan developments for a more sustainable future, it is vital to study and understand the changes in our population. This paper introduces Moses, an individual based model that simulates the UK population through discrete demographic processes at a fine spatial scale for 30 years from 2001 to 2031. The modeling method is grounded in a dynamic spatial MicroSimulation Model (MSM), but also introduced Agent Based Model (ABM) insights to strengthen the modeling of movements, interactions and behaviors of distinctively different sub-populations. The MSM can not only produce projections of baseline population with rich information on individuals to facilitate various studies, it can be also useful in providing an assessment of multiple scenarios for different planning applications. In this paper, we will demonstrate three spatial planning applications in the areas of residential land use planning, public health planning and public transport planning. Whilst the demonstrations are deliberately made simple, the contribution of intelligent agents in the modeling of interaction, behavior and the impact of personal histories on demographic changes is clearly shown. Within this framework, it enables researchers to effectively model the heterogeneous decision making units on a large scale, as well as provide the flexibility to introduce different modeling techniques to strengthen various aspects of the model.

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