Synthesized population databases A US geospatial database for agent-based models

By William Wheaton, James Cajka, Bernadette Chasteen, Diane Wagener, Phillip Cooley, Laxminarayana Ganapathi, Douglas Roberts, Justine Allpress

Agent-based models simulate large-scale social systems. They assign behaviors and activities to "agents" (individuals) within the population being modeled and then allow the agents to interact with the environment and each other in complex simulations. Agent-based models are frequently used to simulate infectious disease outbreaks, among other uses.

RTI used and extended an iterative proportional fitting method to generate a synthesized, geospatially explicit, human agent database that represents the US population in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the year 2000. Each agent is assigned to a household; other agents make up the household occupants.

For this database, RTI developed the methods for
• generating synthesized households and persons
• assigning agents to schools and workplaces so that complex interactions among agents as they go about their daily activities can be taken into account
• generating synthesized human agents who occupy group quarters (military bases, college dormitories, prisons, nursing homes).

In this report, we describe both the methods used to generate the synthesized population database and the final data structure and data content of the database. This information will provide researchers with the information they need to use the database in developing agent-based models.

Portions of the synthesized agent database are available to any user upon request. RTI will extract a portion (a county, region, or state) of the database for users who wish to use this database in their own agent-based models.


Wheaton, W., Cajka, J., Chasteen, B., Wagener, D., Cooley, P., Ganapathi, L., ... Allpress, J. (2009). Synthesized population databases: A US geospatial database for agent-based models. (RTI Press Publication No. MR-0010-0905). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

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


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

James CajkaJames Cajka, MA, is a senior GIS analyst in RTI’s Geospatial Science and Technology Program.

Bernadette ChasteenBernadette M. Chasteen, MA, is a research GIS 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.

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.

Douglas RobertsDouglas J. Roberts, MS, is a programmer/analyst at RTI International.

Justine AllpressJustine L. Allpress, MA, is a research GIS analyst at RTI International.

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