Many real-world spatial systems can be conceptualized as networks. In these conceptualizations, nodes and links represent system components and their interactions, respectively. Traditional network analysis applies graph theory measures to static network datasets. However, recent interest lies in the representation and analysis of evolving networks. Existing network automata approaches simulate evolving network structures, but do not consider the representation of evolving networks embedded in geographic space nor integrating actual geospatial data. Therefore, the objective of this study is to integrate network automata with geographic information systems (GIS) to develop a novel modelling framework, Geographic Network Automata (GNA), for representing and analyzing complex dynamic spatial systems as evolving geospatial networks. The GNA framework is implemented and presented for two case studies including a spatial network representation of (1) Conway’s Game of Life model and (2) Schelling’s model of segregation. The simulated evolving spatial network structures are measured using graph theory. Obtained results demonstrate that the integration of concepts from geographic information science, complex systems, and network theory offers new means to represent and analyze complex spatial systems. The presented GNA modelling framework is both general and flexible, useful for modelling a variety of real geospatial phenomena and characterizing and exploring network structure, dynamics, and evolution of real spatial systems. The proposed GNA modelling framework fits within the larger framework of geographic automata systems (GAS) alongside cellular automata and agent-based modelling.
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