Global Water Games: A General Participatory, Agent-Based Modeling Platform for Watershed System Management

Harrison, Patrick, Systems Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Learmonth, Gerard, Department of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia

Watershed system management is becoming an increasingly important problem in the face of continuing growth in population, economic activity, and agricultural production worldwide. Watershed systems provide human society with numerous critical economic and ecosystem services. But effective management of watershed systems can be extremely difficult. Watershed systems are not simple systems—they are complex socio-ecological systems with many stakeholders who often have diverse and often competing interests. To facilitate effective watershed system management, decision makers around the world need better tools to help them explore the vast array of policy options available to them and build consensus among different types of stakeholders.

The UVa Bay Game® is a multidisciplinary attempt to address these myriad and complex management challenges for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. It applies a spatially explicit, agent-based, participatory simulation framework to modeling the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, presented in a “serious game” format. Its validated modeling approach brings together local decision makers and a variety of Watershed stakeholders, enabling them to explore the effects of different policy choices and learn about the systemic nature of the challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

This thesis presents the Global Water Games platform—a general, participatory, agent-based modeling framework for watershed system management. It expands and generalizes the modeling approach of the UVa Bay Game®, making it flexible enough to adapt to a variety of watershed stakeholder needs and objectives. The reusable and extensible Global Water Games platform allows modelers and stakeholders to build similar participatory, agent-based watershed simulation “games” for any watershed system around the world, provided basic input data is available. Models built using the Global Water Games platform support effective watershed system management through the dual purposes of providing policy decision support and facilitating social learning among watershed system stakeholders.

MS (Master of Science)
socio-ecological system, water resources management, water supply, Chesapeake Bay Watershed, sustainability, watershed, serious game, hydrologic unit, participatory simulation, watershed system, Chesapeake Bay, watershed modeling, agent-based modeling, complex system, stakeholder participation, agent-based, UVa Bay Game, complex socio-ecological system, watershed system management, water quality, Bay Game, water resources, agent-based participatory simulation, watershed management, participatory modeling, agent-based simulation
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