Urbanism: how AnyLogic can help build superior cities

Crosswalk, blurred people crossing the city center

In the modern world, people strive for comfort. About 55% of the Earth’s population already lives in cities, but this number is expected to grow to 70% by 2050 according to the UN forecast. So, people’s need for a comfortable and accessible environment within cities will steadily grow as well, and urban planning should address it.

Urban design projects presented as physical models or drawings usually look nice and contain all of the necessary details, but when implemented, they may reveal unexpected problems. Even if the drawing matches the actual layout, some dynamic factors that may affect the design get left out.

For example, a paved pedestrian path from a subway station to the nearest supermarket may become too narrow and uncomfortably crowded in a couple of years as the number of pedestrians that are using it grows.

AnyLogic is a risk-free simulation environment where you can create various modeling scenarios using pedestrian flows and analyze them before implementing the project. Using models, you can consider the dynamics, which gives you a more complete picture of what is going on. And if anything doesn’t work as expected in the model, you can change it on the fly.

Here's a brief overview of how AnyLogic can be used for urban design.

Pedestrian path design

Let's start with an example. An architect is planning a large apartment building. They’ve designed a layout of pedestrian pathways around it.

However, it doesn’t guarantee that pedestrians will follow them. In fact, people tend to choose the most convenient route, usually being the shortest one, regardless of the already existing paths.

Pedestrians walking paths in various directions
A modeler's running a simulation to discover what routes pedestrians would choose

That is why some housing companies don’t pave the paths immediately. Instead, they wait for pedestrians to trample them themselves. The most convenient pedestrian routes become visible and then get paved.

But why should you wait if you can model all of this in AnyLogic simulation software? It has a built-in Pedestrian Library, which is specifically designed to simulate pedestrian flows.

In your pedestrian simulation model, you can define the area where pedestrians are allowed to move around, and they will look for the shortest path to reach the destination faster.

Pedestrians walking paved paths in various directions
Based on the previous simulation, a modeler has added a new paved path

Apartment parking problem

When planning pedestrian paths to and from a residential building, you need to consider roads as well. In some cases, a wider sidewalk could result in uncomfortably narrow roads, traffic congestion, and other related problems.

A consequence of wasted space in an urban setting is lack of parking spaces near apartment buildings. This could be solved with the use of simulation. Modeling different combinations of parking lot dimensions connected with driveways and roads could solve this problem.

During the modeling, it could turn out that a surface parking lot is not efficient at all, and it would be better to build an underground parking instead. It would create more available parking space, reducing the intersection of car and pedestrian flows, and it would simplify car movements around the parking lot.

Additionally, it is important that cars don’t create traffic congestion when entering the apartment building property from the road. This can also be modeled in AnyLogic. You can use the built-in Road Traffic Library to model car movements. By using simulation, you can predict the situation on the road based on the current traffic flow and a specific road network.

Moreover, further car movement optimization to reduce traffic jams on the intersections is possible. As a result, people will be able to move around the city faster.

All of this has a positive effect on the comfort of people's lives in cities, and AnyLogic could help you to model urban plans to make our world a bit better.

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