Synthesizing System Dynamics and Geographic Information Systems in a new method to Model and Simulate Environmental Systems
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A new method to synthesize system dynamics (SD) with geographic information systems (GIS) is presented in this research. This new method employs the Object Oriented Paradigm (OOP) as a common platform for the integration process. Recently, GIS software such as ArcGIS has become fully Object-Oriented software, providing the ArcObjects developer kit as a collection of (COM-compliant) objects that can be linked/embedded within other OO software. Vensim® software is an Object-Based simulation environment that can be used to build simulation models that may be linked to other applications through its dynamic link library (DLL). We developed a new application, referred to as SDGIS Application, using Microsoft Visual Basic to tightly couple the SD model components with their counterparts in the GIS model (i.e., stocks and flows with the associated geo-referenced features). Initially, the GIS model provides the spatial information to the SD model. The SD model, through simulation, identifies the changes in the spatial features over time and communicates them back to the GIS model. These changes in space in turn impact the decisions taken by the user. Thus, processes can be modelled in time and space in an integrated way while capturing underlying accumulation process, the feedbacks, and nonlinearities. The underlying approach, resulting in creation of the SDGIS application, provides a much-needed capability to model spatially distributed, dynamic feedback processes in time and space, while facilitating an understanding of the interactions between different components within the system. The main strength of this approach is the two-way simultaneous exchange of data between the SD and GIS, providing feedback in time and space. The technique used to build the SDGIS application is different than existing techniques for dynamic modelling such as Cellular Automata; Agent-Based simulation and GIS Model-Builder, and addresses most of the limitations present in these techniques. This approach, and the associated techniques, can be used to build similar applications like the SDGIS to model a variety of natural and social processes where the main concern is the space–time interaction. This is true in cases that concern environmental processes, water and/or natural resources management, and disaster management. In this research, the applicability of the SDGIS Application is demonstrated with an application to the irrigation system in the Nile Delta region in Egypt.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
SubjectSystem dynamicsGeographic information systemsObject OrientedEnvironmental systemsWater resources managementspatial distributionIrrigation systemthe Nile Delta
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