Thursday, 7 March 2013

Crime Simulation with SimCity

The new SimCity game is causing quite a stir among the agent-based modelling community. Its simulation engine (called GlassBox) is basically an agent-based model which allows individual sims to behave independently and build up to larger city-wide patterns (such as pollution, population happiness, traffic, etc.) This has already been used to model new road designs in Manchester (see this post).

Importantly, the game includes an add on called "Heroes and Villians" which  could have a use in crime simulation. It seems to focus mostly on comic book style crime fighters and mob bosses, but might have the potential to simulate some interesting crime patterns. Given the success in simulating traffic, this might well be a useful tool. It will be interesting to see how it pans out and whether or not it can be used for more than just playing games.  

For anyone interested, the developers of the game have also released a video showing how the simulation engine works. It's an excellent example of an agent-based model.

(Thanks to Andrew Crooks and Ed Manly for pointing me to SimCity and the Manchester work).