Using ABM to Model a Zombie Apocalypse

According to O’Sullivan, the field of Pedestrian models is one of the up and coming areas of interest in what he calls “a locally specific agent-based approach” (O’Sullivan, 543).  In his section on “mid-range regionally or locally specific models”, he states that recent work has been done to simulate crowd-control of large groups of pedestrians in a panicked situation.  I would like to take this approach much further and propose a what-if scenario in which ABM was used to model what would happen in a situation where a real-life pathogenic Zombie outbreak were to occur.

Some suggested parameters to add to the model would be the underlying city infrastructure, locations of food, water and first-aid, locations of weapons and ammunition as well as areas that can be considered safe to occupy.  One of the key features that would have to be programed in the agent’s ability would be non-infected vs infected and how individuals vs groups would respond to either individuals or groups of Zombies. In O’Sullivan’s example, he notes that while the environments that the agents occupy may be complex, the agents themselves are not complex.  Ideally, it would be a simple matter of the flight or flight response, with added thresholds for when the risk of danger is outweighed by the need to venture outside to scavenge materials.

I wish that I understood more about building these sorts of models, as this is a theoretical situation that I would be thrilled to be able to simulate.


3 Responses to “Using ABM to Model a Zombie Apocalypse”

  1. Ally_Nash says:

    O’Sullivan briefly talks about incorporating the ability for agents to act on the spatial structure of the environment (545), which I think would be critical to include in a zombie invasion stimulation. Decisions made by non-infected agents will depend on the entire space surrounding him not just specific features. For instance, the decision to get water from a well will require an agent to “know” and “assess” all the geographical obstacles that separates him and the well (hills, buildings, barricades…etc) and more importantly, the viewsheds of any zombies that are close to him.


  2. Peck says:

    I think zombies just need a buffer – I do believe they detect by scent and sound no?

  3. rsmithlal says:

    @Peck – They certainly detect by sound and smell, in many different zombie storylines. They seem to be particularly attracted to gunshots, and in one episode of The Walking Dead, the survivors covered themselves in zombie organic matter in order to walk around zombies without detection. However, it soon started to rain and the zombies were quick to attack them once their human scent was exposed.

    @Ally – You make a couple of good points in your response. I especially agree with the fact that survivor decision will need to take into consideration their entire surroundings before acting.

    I would also like to mention that there needs to be functions defined that identify the behaviors of both infected and survivors in groups vs as individuals. Call it an analogue to flock behavior.