Dynamic agent based simulation of an urban disaster using synthetic big data

A. Yair Grinberger*, Michal Lichter, Daniel Felsenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This paper illustrates how synthetic big data can be generated from standard administrative small data. Small areal statistical units are decomposed into households and individuals using a GIS buildings data layer. Households and individuals are then profiled with socio-economic attributes and combined with an agent based simulation model in order to create dynamics. The resultant data is ‘big’ in terms of volume, variety and versatility. It allows for different layers of spatial information to be populated and embellished with synthetic attributes. The data decomposition process involves moving from a database describing only hundreds or thousands of spatial units to one containing records of millions of buildings and individuals over time. The method is illustrated in the context of a hypothetical earthquake in downtown Jerusalem. Agents interact with each other and their built environment. Buildings are characterized in terms of land-use, floor-space and value. Agents are characterized in terms of income and socio-demographic attributes and are allocated to buildings. Simple behavioral rules and a dynamic house pricing system inform residential location preferences and land use change, yielding a detailed account of urban spatial and temporal dynamics. These techniques allow for the bottom-up formulation of the behavior of an entire urban system. Outputs relate to land use change, change in capital stock and socio-economic vulnerability.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSpringer Geography
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameSpringer Geography
ISSN (Print)2194-315X
ISSN (Electronic)2194-3168

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Agent based simulation
  • Earthquake
  • Socio-economic profiling
  • Synthetic big data


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