Exploring the adaptive capacity of emergency management using agent based modelling

Lin Padgham, Shae Hunter and Dhirendra Singh

Agent Based Modelling and Simulation (ABSM) is a technology which supports modelling of a complex situation from the bottom up, by modelling the behaviours of individual agents (often representing humans) in various scenarios. By running simulations with different configurations it is possible to explore and analyse a very broad range of potential options. Within this study, ABSM proved useful in assessing and developing the capacity of the emergency response sector as it adapts to climate change. A specific simulation tool was developed to explore hypothetical response capacity around flash flooding in an inner Melbourne suburb, with a focus on sandbag depots as an option to be considered. Simulations indicated that sandbag depots provided by CoPP or VicSES, were at this time not a viable option. An interactive game was also developed to assist in raising awareness of community members about how to sandbag their property using on-site sandbags. Both the simulation tool and computer game were deemed by stakeholders to be very useful for policy and planning analysis, as well as a valuable community education tool. The benefits of this technology can be enhanced through managing expectations (reminding users of the "decision support" nature of the technology), maintaining clear and consistent communication with stakeholders, and building strong cohesive interdisciplinary teams. 

Resource Type: 
Research report
Local government

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