Preparing simulations

To prepare simulations for a specific region, you will require to do undertake the following steps:

  1. Extract building CSV files from geospatial data.
  2. Acquiring validation data.
  3. Acquiring demographics data.
  4. Verifying the disease specification in disease.yml.
  5. Defining the exact public health interventions undertaken, their timing and estimated compliance rate.

1. Extract building CSV files

This can be done e.g. using the scripts availably at

The first thing you will need is an OSM file of the region of interest. You can obtain these e.g. by exporting them from, or using the OSRM tool.

Next, you need to extract locations from the OSM file. You can do this using: python3 extract_<location_type>.py <osm_file> > <out_dir>/<location_type>.csv

The location types required are:

  • houses
  • offices
  • hospitals
  • parks (this includes leisure locations)
  • schools
  • supermarkets

All these locations will be stored in separate CSV files, so that they are easy to inspect manually. To then create a buildings.csv for FACS, simply concatenate all the previously extracted locations into one CSV file.

Notes on specific buildings:

Houses: The current script generates houses randomly within the OSM residential zones. This is because in London there is no comprehensive data on individual house buildings available. Such data is available for cities in e.g. the Netherlands and Germany, so one could choose to extract individual houses there for a more accurate house distribution.

Offices: Many local regions have a very large mismatch between the number of houses and the number of offices, as many workers commute elsewhere. Currently, we generate random offices across the borough in FACS. However, explicit offices can be placed by uncommenting the line in this if statement: . If it turns out that this feature is desirable for anyone, then we will refactor the code and offer this functionality as a run-time parameter (just raise an issue in the FACS repo).

2. Acquiring validation data

To do this you require region-specific data related to Covid-19 spread. These could include:

  • daily hospital admissions by region.
  • daily intensive care unit admissions by region.
  • daily intensive care unit bed occupancy (covid patients only) by region.

If you only have validation data for a single hospital, then you could choose to make a separate validation model, covering only the catchment area of the hospital, before developing the main simulation.

3. Acquiring demographics data

We provide example demographics data in . This data is loaded automatically into FACS on startup.

The data contains the number of citizens by age, with a generic group for people aged 90 and over. The layout of the file is as follows:

Age,<borough name>,<borough2 name>,<country name>

Here you can add one new column for each new scenario location that you’re adding. This could be a city or a country (if you plan to do a very large scale run). It is perfectly fine to remove columns of locations that you’re not using, to make the file simpler.

4. Verifying the disease specification in disease.yml

One of the input files is a definition of the disease one is trying to model. We provide a YML-based specification of an example interpretation of Covid-19 in the covid_data subdirectory for your convenience, see: .

The exact format may still be subject to change, but among others we have fields for:

  • infection_rate - indicates how fast the disease spreads.
  • mortality - percentage of patients that do not survive the disease. This is binned, with each bin labelled with the mean age value of that bin (e.g., 4.5 for the range 0-9 years).
  • hospitalised - percentage of patients that end up on intensive care. This is also binned, with each bin labelled with the mean age value of that bin (e.g., 4.5 for the range 0-9 years).
  • mortality_period - mean duration from hospitalisation to death.
  • recovery_period - mean duration from hospitalisation to recovery.
  • mild_recovery_period - mean duration to recovery (i.e., no longer shedding viral particles) after infection.
  • incubation_period - mean duration between receiving the virus and becoming infectious. NOTE: does not relate to exhibiting symptoms (!)
  • period_to_hospitalisation - mean duration for severely ill patients between getting infected and being admitted to intensive care.

5. Defining the exact public health interventions undertaken

This is perhaps the most complicated step, and will require some Python coding at this stage. We have implemented a range of measures, which can be viewed in the facs/ (or flacs/ if I didn’t update the repo yet).

The main run file,, shows examples on how we raise and release various measures as part of different scenarios.

Because the interventions are a moving target, we will not provide static documentation here. However, we are happy to provide advice, or implement customized measures on request. To do so, simply raise a GitHub issue.

Within FACS, most public health interventions are straightforward to implement, as the code base is relatively small, and Python3 makes modification relatively easy. However, one still needs to have expertise in Python3 and a reasonably good understanding of the working of the code.