Ribarsky notes that the problem with complex interactions that involve a multitude of variables is that it is often very difficult to see and understand what the nature of the interaction is.
"We need to see how the dimensions behave with respect to one another and also how a growth pattern in one area correlates with a growth pattern in another area," he said. "Using visualization techniques, we will develop tools 'probes' that will allow us to see how the variables are changing and developing and compare them to find differences for any regions we choose. The tools are highly interactive and can be used in an exploratory way to help the researchers see the dynamics of the system they are studying their use can reveal the detailed behavior of the model in a way that had not been revealed before."
In the end, the team hopes to develop a sophisticated model that will give land planners a very valuable and versatile tool with the ability to look into the future and to see with greater clarity the effects of a multitude of potential future conditions and policy decisions.
"It's a simulation," Meentemeyer said. "We can change the parameters any number of possible ways and then see what kind of human and ecological landscape gets created. This will allow us to understand what policies will actually work to build a more sustainable city.
"Decision makers can make policies, but no one knows right now if they are going to work. It's a tricky thing to try to figure it out. If we can help a bit, it will be an important contribution," he said.
|Contact: James Hathaway|
University of North Carolina at Charlotte