I know that there are many scripts (mostly in matlab) out there that address the spread of disease/zombie infection, but does anyone know of ways this has been developed/implemented in ArcGIS?

Essentially, how would you deal with taking into account issues of:

  1. Terrain
  2. Population density (by polygon or raster)

Would you write it in something like python or are there tools/models/scripts that already exist that I don't know about?

From what I can find, a majority of the modelling is done in math, like here.

What steps would you take personally to answer the question: Given point X, how fast would a zombie outbreak spread given Y speed, Z terrain, or other variables?

The reason I ask, I teach GIS to a lot of young people and would love to use this as an opportunity to inspire them.


  • I guess what you should look for are agent based models (available through AgentAnalyst in ArcGis). I don't have an example yet, but i am sure that you could adapt one of those urban growth models out there to simulate a zombie infection
    – Curlew
    Nov 11, 2013 at 22:00
  • 3
    Here's how not to do it in ArcGIS: blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2013/10/07/31998
    – johns
    Nov 11, 2013 at 22:06
  • Have you looked at mapofthedead.com for some ideas?
    – Kevin
    Nov 11, 2013 at 22:14
  • 1
    @johns Can you explain why not, perhaps as an Answer?
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 11, 2013 at 23:26
  • 1
    I'm not sure that zombie outbreaks are that deterministic. There are a lot of confounding factors in such an analysis - whether reanimation of already dead corpses is possible, the age of the intended audience (e.g. for kids, more likely around campsites; for adults, obligatory inclusion of stripclubs), whether animals are affected (zombie crows are particularly nasty), the lack of data on how well zombies can tunnel and cross streams, potential interactions between zombies and vampire populations, and of course the undecided issue of zombies vs godzilla. Good luck with it though.
    – BradHards
    Nov 12, 2013 at 1:34


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