Including the group quarters population in the US synthesized population database

By Bernadette Chasteen, William Wheaton, Phillip Cooley, Laxminarayana Ganapathi, Diane Wagener

In 2005, RTI International researchers developed methods to generate synthesized population data on US households for the US Synthesized Population Database. These data are used in agent-based modeling, which simulates large-scale social networks to test how changes in the behaviors of individuals affect the overall network. Group quarters are residences where individuals live in close proximity and interact frequently. Although the Synthesized Population Database represents the population living in households, data for the nation’s group quarters residents are not easily quantified because of US Census Bureau reporting methods designed to protect individuals’ privacy.

Including group quarters population data can be an important factor in agent-based modeling because the number of residents and the frequency of their interactions are variables that directly affect modeling results. Particularly with infectious disease modeling, the increased frequency of agent interaction may increase the probability of infectious disease transmission between individuals and the probability of disease outbreaks.

This report reviews our methods to synthesize data on group quarters residents to match US Census Bureau data. Our goal in developing the Group Quarters Population Database was to enable its use with RTI’s US Synthesized Population Database in the Modeling of Infectious Diseases Agent Study.


Chasteen, B., Wheaton, W., Cooley, P., Ganapathi, L., & Wagener, D. (2011). Including the group quarters population in the US synthesized population database. (RTI Press Publication No. MR-0020-1102). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Bernadette ChasteenBernadette M. Chasteen, MA, is a research GIS analyst at RTI International.

William WheatonWilliam D. Wheaton, MA, is a senior research geographer and director of RTI International’s Geospatial Science and Technology program.

Phillip CooleyPhilip C. Cooley, MS, Senior Fellow in bioinformatics and high-performance computing, is a principal scientist with more than 50 years of experience developing computer models for the study of environmental health and infectious and chronic disease. Cooley has designed and implemented a series of influenza transmission models for the study and management of pandemic flu. He has also designed a model to study the double burden of malnutrition in Indonesia. His current research includes an assessment of statistical methods for biomarker explorations in the context of genome-wide-analysis studies.

Laxminarayana GanapathiLaxminarayana Ganapathi, PhD, is a programmer/analyst at RTI International.

Diane WagenerDiane K. Wagener, PhD, was a senior epidemiologist in RTI’s Statistics and Epidemiology program and the Principal Investigator of the Models of Infectious Disease Agents (MIDAS) Informational Technology Resource at RTI International.

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