Using SLEUTH for Urban Prediction Modelling

Considering my background, I am an urban planner by training, and I have always been a technology enthusiast. So, when it came for me to choose a diploma thesis topic, I decided to work on cellular automata modelling, and specifically the SLEUTH model.

SLEUTH is an urban growth prediction model, based on cellular automata. The name derives from the initials of the 6 input data: Slope, Landuse, Excluded, Urban, Transportation, Hillshade. Also, the prediction was made from 2010 (latest input data was for the year 2009) to 2029 (20 years prediction).

The current diploma thesis presents, in the first place, the phenomenon of urban sprawl in both theoretical and applied levels, through different cases in Greece. Also, this thesis presents the application of SLEUTH model and the area of appliance of this model, in order to predict the urban sprawl levels for the city of Volos and the urban areas nearby. In addition, Cellular Automata are  analysed in the thesis, as well as the Monte Carlo methods and the basic steps that were followed for the SLEUTH model to function. By presenting certain images, the outcome results from the model function are being analysed and similar conclusions are mentioned.

The case study of Volos is one of the most interesting cases in Greece, as concerns the urban sprawl prediction. That is because Volos is the 6th largest city in population in Greece, with a big growth rate, and combines all of the characteristics, natural or man-created, that are used for the prediction of urban sprawl. Generally, the purpose of this thesis is to examine if the SLEUTH model can be adopted for Greek case studies and, thus, producing logical assumptions, and if it is possible that the model could be used as a tool in urban and rural planning.

These are the results as visualised using ArcScene. The areas in red colour show that the chance of urban sprawl in that area is >90%, and in the areas with green colour the chance is 1-30%. The results are logical, but not in the specific time continuum of the 20 years prediction. This means, that the results shown are the most possible to be done, but not by 2029. Since the fact that in Greece there is economic crisis, growth and development has been minimised to the lowest levels. SLEUTH model does not take into account economic factors, thus making it impossible for the model to predict the reductions in urban growth.

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