Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Modeling Disaster Resilience

Greeting from Habitat for Humanity Australia's office in Sydney, where I am taking part in a workshop on building a disaster simulator for training emergency workers. This is part of research by University of Newcastle and RMIT University on "Modelling disaster resilience: enhancing student learning through trans-disciplinary simulation of wicked scenarios" (RES-SIM). The Project Team is Dr Jason Von Meding, Dr Sittimont Kanjanabootra, Dr Helen Giggins and Dr Vanessa Cooper. Also University of Newcastle has also become an International Training Centre for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

This is of interest as I use scenarios in training ICT students in ethics. This year I prepared a "Cyberwar Over the South China Sea", for teaching ICT ethics. This has created interest from emergency and security organizations for training staff. It was designed as purely a paper exercise, but as if there is interest it could be provided with IT support. This what the RES-SIM project is proposing to do, but I have in mind just using the same e-learning software used for courses, rather than specialized simulation software.

RES-SIM is proposing to use systems dynamics to create a complex adaptive model of an emergency relief operation:
Societal systems and subsystems (e.g. health systems, transport systems, political systems) are increasingly vulnerable to a range of destabilising variables, from the immediate impacts of disasters (natural or man-made) on various system components to the subsequent responses of decision-makers. Consequently there is an expanding market for courses and degree programs in the disaster realm, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, from various disciplinary perspectives. There is, however, a gap in the current education and training of disaster responders, just as there is a lack of understanding of whole-of-system dynamics. The RES-SIM project will deliver a conceptual disaster system model and scenarios for proposed educational simulation through stakeholder engagement (workshops and focus groups) and use case analysis. The project represents value to higher education in Australia through the provision of tangible experience of solving wicked problems in a trans-disciplinary environment for students who might otherwise emerge with purely theoretical knowledge of complex systems. From "Modelling disaster resilience: enhancing student learning through trans-disciplinary simulation of wicked scenarios", RES-SIM Project, OLT 2014

Unfortunately the RES-SIM workshop only spent the last ten minutes of the three hours on what for me was the most important question: "How do we teach this stuff?".

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