Patterson, Z., and Bierlaire, M. (2008)

Development of Prototype UrbanSim Models

UrbanSim is an integrated transportation land-use model that has been under development since the late 1990s. It has received a fair bit of attention in the integrated modeling community. Its notoriety comes primarily from its disaggregated approach. A number of papers describing the application of UrbanSim have appeared in the formal and grey literatures. Some of these papers report on successful applications of UrbanSim with little description of the amount of effort required to develop an operational model. Those that do report on the effort and challenges of using UrbanSim suggest that substantial data and human resources are required. One recent report quantifies the human resource requirements as an interdisciplinary team of four for four years. This reputation makes many potential users think twice before developing an UrbanSim model. We believe the only way to evaluate the potential of UrbanSim is by having a good understanding of what it can do, and how much effort is required. Understanding UrbanSim, however, does not require having a fully operational model. This paper is aimed at researchers and institutions that would like to evaluate UrbanSim, but are concerned about the effort required. Based on two UrbanSim applications (Brussels in Belgium and Lausanne in Switzerland), this paper describes a procedure to develop a prototype UrbanSim model and how to use it to evaluate UrbanSim for application to a new region.

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