Urban life: a model of people and places

Andreas Züfle, Carola Wenk, Dieter Pfoser, Andrew Crooks, Joon-Seok Kim, Hamdi Kavak, Umar Manzoor, Hyunjee Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce the Urban Life agent-based simulation used by the Ground Truth program to capture the innate needs of a human-like population and explore how such needs shape social constructs such as friendship and wealth. Urban Life is a spatially explicit model to explore how urban form impacts agents’ daily patterns of life. By meeting up at places agents form social networks, which in turn affect the places the agents visit. In our model, location and co-location affect all levels of decision making as agents prefer to visit nearby places. Co-location is necessary (but not sufficient) to connect agents in the social network. The Urban Life model was used in the Ground Truth program as a virtual world testbed to produce data in a setting in which the underlying ground truth was explicitly known. Data was provided to research teams to test and validate Human Domain research methods to an extent previously impossible. This paper summarizes our Urban Life model’s design and simulation along with a description of how it was used to test the ability of Human Domain research teams to predict future states and to prescribe changes to the simulation to achieve desired outcomes in our simulated world.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
JournalComputational and Mathematical Organization Theory
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2021


  • Urban simulation
  • Patterns of life
  • Agent based modeling
  • Geographical information systems
  • Social networks


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