Simulation modelling of spatial problems

Shapiro, Janet (1995) Simulation modelling of spatial problems. Doctoral thesis, University of North London.


The thesis presents a simulation modelling strategy for spatial problems which uses a data structure based on spatial relationships. Using this network based approach, two domain specific data-driven models are developed in which the movement of people is modelled as a quasi-continuous process.

The development of simulation modelling technology is examined to find reasons why there should be a reluctance to use the technique. With particular reference to problems which are spatially related, the established simulation modelling techniques, together with their diagrammatic representations, are evaluated for their helpfulness at the model building stage. Using a specimen example, it is demonstrated that the commonly used approaches for digital discrete event simulation, which use a procedural paradigm, give little help with problems which involve the allocation of a resource and have spatial constraints. Two domain specific generic models are demonstrated which adopt an object-oriented approach, for which the model description, including the logical constraints, are given in the data-file.

A method for modelling the movement of people at different levels of congestion as a quasi-continuous process is validated using results from reported surveys of people's movement rates and direct observations, and this is applied in both models.

The first models the emergency evacuation of a building, using a graph structure to represent the spatial components. This is implemented using object-oriented code and test runs are compared with evacuation times from a building at the University of North London.

The second provides an experimental tool for comparing the effect upon ward function of different layouts and was influenced by a published survey of a nurse activity analysis carried out in fourteen different wards. The nurse activity model uses two graph structures and an object class to model the nurses who move, with reference to, and informed by, the spatial graph structure.

The successful application of the method in the two problem domains confirms its potential usefulness for spatial problems.

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