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The people who imagine disasters

Why we use models

  • A model is just a series of calculations that abstractly represent some systems in the real world. We use models all the time.
  • We may work out the routes we could take to get to work at a specific time of the day. We use past data to make predictions about what we can expect in the future in a given set of circumstances.
  • As the volume of data and the number of variables increase, the computational task would increase.
  • Powerful models aim to forecast inherently unpredictable events and make use of machine learning to look for patterns in the data that would otherwise be missed.

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The people who imagine disasters

The people who imagine disasters

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200707-how-we-can-prepare-for-disaster

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

Simulating a crisis

Modeling systems are used to provide a better understanding of a bad situation and how to possibly prevent it.

Groups of researchers, teams of engineers and companies are dedicated to simulate a range of disasters to help us all be better prepared.

Why we use models

  • A model is just a series of calculations that abstractly represent some systems in the real world. We use models all the time.
  • We may work out the routes we could take to get to work at a specific time of the day. We use past data to make predictions about what we can expect in the future in a given set of circumstances.
  • As the volume of data and the number of variables increase, the computational task would increase.
  • Powerful models aim to forecast inherently unpredictable events and make use of machine learning to look for patterns in the data that would otherwise be missed.

The accuracy of a model

You can never accurately predict what's going to happen. Some efforts come close.

For example, models looking at the weather can achieve more than 90% accuracy. But crises are about change, and a model working from historical data may miss a dramatic and new change.

How people could respond to different situations

Knowing how people will respond in different situations is essential if you hope to keep them safe during a crisis. A type of simulation known as agent-based modelling attempts to understand interpersonal behaviours.

In stadiums, crowds of people can behave very differently depending on who they are and what kind of event has brought them to the venue. Depending on what sort of crowds are expected, architects may adjust the number of exits or the staircase designs to ensure a steady flow out of the venue during an evacuation. Modeling helps by getting the balance right.

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