Innovative participatory agent based modeling using a complexity governance perspective

Joshua M. Uebelherr, David Hondula, Erik Johnston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Increasing extreme heat mortality and morbidity is anticipated to increase with climate change and urbanization over the next century. The southwest U.S. in particular shows regional climate forecasts with hotter and drier conditions. There is notable heat related mortality and morbidity each year in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area of Maricopa County. This is despite efforts of many public and nonprofit organizations to minimize health risks associated with the region's persistent high temperatures. Access to air conditioned space has been shown to reduce heat related mortality risk. Cooling centers were established in during 2006 in the Phoenix area through the Heat Relief Network (HRN) as an intervention. The HRN is a group of voluntary public and nonprofit community organizations operating in partnership with the Maricopa Association of Governments as well as County and State public health agencies. Participatory modeling was used to engage the heat relief community in greater Phoenix using a Netlogo prototype agent based model of the 2013 HRN cooling centers. Such an approach affords new ways of incorporating local expertise experienced in the field as a means of translating evidence into practice and allows exploration cooling center network dynamics from a complexity governance perspective. Important lessons learned were often related to increased systemic awareness of opportunities to increase coordination through the heat relief network. For example leveraging self-organization through communication may help more evenly distribute limited resources, such as water bottle donations. Such lessons may provide insight to future challenges for cities around the world as extreme temperatures become more frequent and intense due to climate change and urbanization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationACM International Conference Proceeding Series
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages2
ISBN (Print)9781450336000
StatePublished - May 27 2015
Event16th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, dg.o 2015 - Phoenix, United States
Duration: May 27 2015May 30 2015


Other16th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, dg.o 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Agent based modeling
  • Complexity governance
  • Heat mortality risk
  • Participatory modeling
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software


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