Procedural Modeling of Cities

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As the capability of display platforms improves, generating realistic content to realize the potential of these platforms becomes increasingly challenging. Modelers need tools to help them generate realistic content. Tools for the modeling of natural objects such as plants are well-researched, but man-made objects have been largely overlooked. We are working on tools for the generation of realistic cities. Our approach uses agent-based simulation.

Cities CORE Model - Cultivation Of Realistic Environments

One major fruit of this project is a highly complex model, which simulates land-usage and growth patterns of cities. The Cities CORE model provides capabilities for comprehensive city creation, both by generating urban landscapes automatically from seeds, and by user-directed development that enables interactivity in the city creation process.

It is written using the NetLogo environment and modeling language, and is comprised of almost ten thousand lines of code. We are publicly releasing this model as a contribution to urban modeling research.

Further information is available on the Cities CORE Model Page.

Extending the Cities CORE model

No model, however intricate or complex it may be, is the final word on a subject. There are always numerous avenues for extending the model, to take additional facets of the situation into account, to measure results using different metrics, or to integrate with other tools.

To this end, we show how the Cities CORE model can be extended in one particular direction -- namely, the ability to import transportation networks that are created using other programs and algorithms. We also created a NetLogo model called the "Road Grid Builder", which provides convenient tools for building road networks, which can then be imported into the Cities CORE model for simulated growth.

Our intent is that this example may offer a path for others to develop similar "plugin" type extensions to the Cities CORE model, to improve its functionality and create synergistic interactions with other urban modeling and statistical tools. By releasing the source code for the CITIES Core model (and the Road Grid Builder extension model), it becomes possible for researchers from across the world to build enhancements to the model.

For a demonstration of this extension, and how to use it, see the Road Network Builder Page.

Researchers and Acknowledgements

Principal Investigators - Uri Wilensky (Northwestern), Ben Watson (North Carolina State), Martin Felson (IIT & UrbanLab)

Other project members - Craig Brozefsky (Northwestern), Tom Lechner (Northwestern), Andy Moddrell (IIT). William Rand (Northwestern), Forrest Stonedahl (Northwestern), Seth Tisue (Northwestern),

Sponsors - NSF ITR award 0326542, Electronic Arts & Maxis.

Thanks to - the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling, the project, the Environmental Simulation Center, John Buchanan, Christopher Alexander & Michael Shiffer.