Wednesday 12 June 2013

New RA Job at UCL: “Agent-based simulation of crime and citizens with proactive policing”

Just came across this new job at UCL which might be relevant to people interested in agent-based modelling and crime simulation.

"Applicants are invited for a Research Associate position based at the UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE). The successful applicant will work as part of a team on an exciting multi-disciplinary project – examining Crime, Policing and Citizens (CPC) and their interaction in space-time networks. The successful candidate will create and maintain a Greater London wide database of police activities, classified by location, and relate these to (policing relevant) citizen characteristics and activities.
The post is available from 1st October and is funded for 2.5 years in the first instance."

Friday 12 April 2013

Crime Simulation and Genetic Algorithms

I recently presented a paper at the GISrUK conference about using a genetic algorithm to calibrate a model and to better understand the behaviour of simulated burglars.

Slides are available here: GISrUK 2013 Presentation and the abstract is here: GISrUK 2013 Abstract.

The aim of the work is to use an artificial intelligence algorithm to calibrate the behaviour of virtual burglars, bringing model results more in line with observed burglary patterns. As well as improving the accuracy of the model, the process might tell us something about the underlying human behaviour. The model is built on the ideas of Routine Activity Theory, the Rational Choice Perspective and the Geometric Theory of Crime. If the genetic algorithm finds that certain types of agent behaviour do not help to improve the accuracy of the burglary model, then this might tell us something about the applicability of the theories to the real world.

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).

Wednesday 15 February 2012

New Simulation Paper in CRIMINOLOGY

Daniel Birks, Michael Townsley and Anna Stewart have just published the first (?) agent-based simulation paper in the renowned CRIMINOLOGY journal entitled "Generative Explanations of Crime: Using Simulation to Test Criminological Theory". The paper is a brilliant example of a simple agent-based model which is able to test how three key theories in Environmental Criminology influence patterns of burglary.

The abstract is

This study demonstrates that computational modeling and, in particular, agent-based modeling (ABM) offers a viable compatriot to traditional experimental methodologies for criminology scholars. ABM can be used as a means to operationalize and test hypothetical mechanisms that offer a potential explanation for commonly observed criminological phenomena. This study tests whether the hypothesized mechanisms of environmental criminology are sufficient to produce several commonly observed characteristics of crime. We present an ABM of residential burglary, simulating a world inhabited by potential targets and offenders who behave according to the theoretical propositions of environmental criminology. A series of simulated experiments examining the impact of these mechanisms on patterns of offending are performed. The outputs of these simulations then are compared with several well-established findings derived from empirical studies of residential burglary, including the spatial concentration of crime, repeat victimization, and the journey to crime curve. The results from this research demonstrate that the propositions of the routine activity approach, rational choice perspective, and crime pattern theory provide a viable generative explanation for several independent characteristics of crime.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

FutureICT Crime Exploratory

As part of a much larger European funding initiative, the FutureICT project is proposing to use ICT, Complexity Science and the Social Sciences to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience. One project in particular, the Crime Exploratory, is highly relevant as it aimed to set up a pan-European crime modelling and data mining observatory, under the EU Collaborative projects and Coordination and Support Actions (CPCSA) funding stream.

Andy Evans recently attended the first CrimeExploratory meeting in Rome to present our work, and got to hear a series of interesting talks from crime modellers from across Europe, including discussions of the financial systems of organised crime, datamining of human trafficking data, and the tricky problem of modelling morality. The talks should be available on the project website soon.

Monday 23 January 2012

New research website

I've just made a new website for my research:

I will continue to update this blog with crime simulation information though as soon as the project starts up again (shouldn't be long..). In the meantime I have been re-building the simulation from the ground up (e.g. the RepastCity project is a highly simplified version used for teaching urban modelling)

Monday 14 November 2011

Call for Papers: 1st International Workshop on Advances in Computational Social Science

The workshop is in conjunction with 12th International Conference on Computational Science, June 4–6, 2012, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Advances in computational systems and methods (parallel, distributed, cloud; agents, networks) are revolutionizing how social science research is done. It is now possible to simulate entire cities, for example, in tremendous detail, not only in terms of technical infrastructures like traffic, but also in terms of the social choices of individuals and how these interact with each other to produce complex phenomena. At the same time, advances in informatics infrastructures mean that more data and more detailed data are collected. These data are not just on our physical environment, but are also along social dimensions. The confluence of these two developments open up many possibilities, and social scientists are now probing questions that they could never ask before. Frequently, asking these questions generate even more inquiry into the interfaces between social science, computer science, information science, and engineering.

In this workshop, we aim to provide a forum for computational social scientists to share advances made in their respective fields, and the innovations they have developed across disciplinary boundaries: on models, methods, data integration and analysis, as well as interpretation of diverse social phenomena. We also hope to foster an environment for earnest dialogue between social scientists keen to employ sophisticated computational models and methods in their research, and computer/information scientists and engineers interested in understanding social science problems.
We invite original research papers on the following topics:
  • Modeling methodologies
  • Simulation strategies and algorithms
  • Organization of heterogeneous social data
  • Data-mining and machine learning on social, behavioral, and economic data
  • Integration of social data into simulations
  • Computational studies of specific social science problems
Computational social science papers that are relevant to this workshop, but cannot be easily classified based on the topics above will also be considered.

For more information, please see the workshop website.