Computational Modelling report published

20 February 2018

Computational Modelling report published

Government Office for Science report features expertise from Henley Business School professor

System dynamics specialist and Chair in Business Informatics at Henley Business School, Professor David C Lane FORS, is one of a distinguished panel of experts whose report on Computational Modelling has been published by the Government Office for Science.

Released today, the report aims to demystify computational modelling – the use of computers to simulate and study the behaviour of complex systems. Computational modelling can, for example, be used to assess the impact of housing projects or changes to transport infrastructure, identify crime patterns or explore future flood risk scenarios.

The report also aims to demonstrate the UK’s capabilities and consider how these can be fully exploited both now and into the future. Areas covered by the document include modelling in business and manufacturing, cities and infrastructure, finance and economics, the environment, and also public policy.

In addition, the report highlights successful case studies, including how modelling was used to help tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK as part of a project presented to the United Nations. It was also used as part of the government-commissioned 2010 Munro Review of Child Protection, for which Professor Lane was an advisor.

The report is a Blackett Review – named after PMS Blackett, the ‘Father of Operational Research’, one of the leading areas of problem-solving using models. Blackett Reviews provide a process by which government engages with academia and industry to provide fresh, multi-disciplinary thinking in a specific area.

Professor Lane was invited to contribute on the basis of his consulting and executive education experience in a range of commercial and public sector/government organisations, and his membership of the Home Office Science Advisory Council (HOSAC).

He said: “Computational modelling helps you understand a situation better: by explaining an idea, or exploring different policy options, or simply considering the complex consequences of an action already taken. This report tries to get people to use models more. It explains what a model is, what it can do for you and how you go about building one. Examples across a wide range of areas then show how useful models can be.
“We offer some ideas about the future of modelling, for example, that, in order to support strategic thinking, senior decision-makers will themselves increasingly participate in building and using models– an area which is one of my particular interests.

In his foreword for the report, Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, describes computational modelling as ‘essential to our future productivity and competitiveness, for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy’, as well as being ‘crucial to the UK’s future competitiveness’.

The report, entitled ‘Computational Modelling: Technological Futures’, was overseen and approved by Sir Mark Walport, the government’s former Chief Scientific Advisor.

A full copy can be found on the Government Office for Science website here.

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