This chapter has sought to explain the context, policy applications, and major design choices in the process of developing an operational urban simulation model, with specific reference to UrbanSim as a case study. It has been argued that careful design at each stage of the process is needed to make the model sensitive to the policies of principal concern, to make the data and computational requirements manageable, to make the model usable by staff and other users with appropriate levels of training, and to fit into the operational practices of the relevant organizations. To be useful (relevant) in the policy process, model design should carefully integrate the elements discussed in the chapter into a design that fits well into a specific institutional and political context, and evolve to adapt to changing conditions. This introduction to the design process sets the stage for more in-depth discussion of specification and operational issues in model use. The UrbanSim system is being further developed to adapt to varying data availability, different factors influencing agent choices in locations ranging from newer and rapidly growing US metropolitan areas in other parts of the world. Considerable effort is now being devoted to developing environmental components of the system such as land cover change, and to developing a robust interface and tools for visualization and evaluation of policy scenarios.
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