From researcher to practitioner: Developing a novel Decision Support System (DSS) to support decision making under uncertainty and adaptation planning

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Michael Green (United Kingdom) 1

1 - Principal Consultant – Climate, Resilience and Sustainability, Wood

This presentation will explore the development of fundamental research through to a commercially viable product from the perspective of a former researcher turned practitioner. Experiences and insights navigating the science-practitioner interface and developing novel decision-making tools applicable to situations of uncertainty will be explored, with the aim of supporting the next generation of research and practitioner tool developers.

These tools, collectively branded on SMARTDec, build on current research, with the aim of supporting analysts and decision makers to make more robust decisions. They are intended to provide an effective framework for analysing complex problems, enabling analysts and decision makers to breakdown operational, tactical and strategic decisions into more manageable and resolvable elements which can be rigorously analysed and subject to sensitivity analysis. Furthermore, they are intended to provide an effective platform to rapidly visualise the sustainability and resilience of different options and strategies.

Wood’s SMARTDec platform is based on the concept of Robust-Utility Analysis (RUA), a quantitative evaluation method which compares options or strategies based on their performance and robustness across a range of possible futures. The focus of RUA is on identifying the best or preferred solution/s, with respect to the decision maker’s priorities and risk appetite, as well as the estimated costs and benefits of potential solutions. This method permits ranking of options or strategies in quantitative terms and supports exploratory analysis of individual preferences.

This method integrates information relating to the options under consideration, future scenarios and potential outcomes, as well as information related to the priorities and risk appetite of the decision maker, including the presence of critical decision thresholds. The platform and underpinning methods confers the following advantages compared with conventional methods.

  • Provides a structured approach for testing solutions against possible futures, provides an attractive methodology for its relative simplicity.
  • Can accommodate a range of risk appetites, from risk-adverse to risk-seeking, providing a structured framework for combining expert judgement and stakeholder preferences.
  • Provides easily understandable rankings of measures, incorporating critical decision thresholds.
  • Can work with physical or economic metrics, enhancing potential for application across non-market sectors such as biodiversity or health.
  • Provides an exploratory decision support tool and can be easily combined with sensitivity analysis and more advanced techniques if required.
  • Supports static and adaptive decision making, including quantitative economic analysis of the value of flexibility and learning.
  • Applicable under situations of high uncertainty, e.g. climate change, where likelihood information is limited or missing.