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2021 Winter Newsletter

2021 Annual Conference May 26th

This years’s annual conference will be a one-day online meeting. It will include presentations from invited speakers and student work. There will also be opportunities for participants to present posters. A “Getting Started with System Dynamics” workshop will run on the evening of the 25th.

Check out the updates at our website conference page and student colloquium page.


System Dynamics Helps to Tackle COVID

The COVID pandemic has provided an opportunity for those in the System Dynamics community to apply their skills.  Whilst there may be general lessons from the pandemic about the wider use of modelling the suitability of SD in such a situation is clear.  The dynamic nature of the situation and the need to be build and refine models at pace and sometimes in the absence, or in advance or hard facts, lends itself to SD.  One such example has been the work undertaken in the Kent & Medway system by the Whole Systems Partnership.  Read more …


Success Stories

Are you a system dynamics practitioner? Or have you used system dynamics in a project? Do you have a success story to tell? 

System Dynamics has been used successfully in a wide range of situations, in efforts that range from a few days’ work up to very large projects. All kinds of organisation have benefited, including businesses, Government departments and voluntary groups. We are keen to highlight more such cases, so if you have a story you would like to tell, please consider submitting it for inclusions in our success stories. Please visit our success stories webpage



System Dynamics Helps to Tackle COVID

Category : News , Recent , Success Stories

Every system dynamics modeller likes an output that tells a story, and when this matches closely to what’s actually happening there’s an additional sense of satisfaction, and confidence in the forecasts that the model generates.  The simple blue line in the illustration below has been generated by an SD model that has been constantly refreshed for the Kent & Medway system since March last year.  It is based on a standard SIR structure with stocks of Susceptible, Infected and Recovered people that flow through the system based on infection rates and the timing between infection, symptoms emerging and any subsequent needs for service interventions.  

The model factors in underlying demographics, national lockdowns, Tiered restrictions, new variants, school opening and Christmas festivities followed by the new Lockdown in England that started on the 4thJanuary.  And it matches the actuals!  It then goes on to estimate the impact on hospital admissions, bed capacity, deaths management and discharge planning.  And because it is fundamentally a population health model it is contributing to our understanding of the impact of COVID on subsequent health needs including Long-COVID and associated Mental Health challenges.

The system dynamic model’s ability to factor in the new COVID variant has been recognised as critical to understanding the Autumn and early Winter surge in cases and subsequent pressure on the health and care system.  It has also been informative as to when, at what levels and under what circumstances this surge would run out of steam – the inevitable balancing loops that put the brakes on otherwise exponentially increases cause by reinforcing loops.  This is illustrated in the diagram where the opportunity and ability of the virus to spread during the Autumn brings about a strong reinforcing cycle that even the November lockdown fails to do more than dent.  The more strict lockdown from the 5thJanuary does turn things around, but we retain the risk of a resurgence given the remaining susceptible population despite the progress of the vaccination programme.

The success of the model in helping people to understand the impact of the new COVID variant in the Kent & Medway system has led to the underlying epidemiological outputs now being developed to inform plans for COVID-19 demand and capacity requirements in the NHS across the South East Region of England. 

Peter Lacey, Director, Whole Systems Partnership


This project is part of our system dynamics success stories in the uk.


A Vaccine Roll-Out Planning Model

Category : News

An announcement from Strategy Dynamics

Combatting COVID-19 has moved on. Now is the pleasant task of planning to roll out the vaccines! Thousands of analysts are struggling right now to solve this with spreadsheets, but this is another local challenge best-handled with a dynamic model, like the one offered by Strategy Dynamics at http://sdl.re/VaccineRolloutDemo. This demo explains the purpose of the local COVID-19 vaccine roll-out model and how it works.  Give it a try and share it with anyone who could use it

Kim Warren (Strategy Dynamics)


4 Week Competition for Young People

Category : News , Students

Just launched! … a 4-week competition – yes, with prizes! – for any upper-school or University teams to answer for their chosen area – city, town, region –  “Lockdown-2 – how deep, how long?” 

Teams will follow the simple classes in the COVID-19 modelling course then use the localisable COVID-19 model to explain how the outbreak has progressed in their area, assess the impact lockdown-2 needs to have on contact-rates, then estimate how the outbreak may progress from there – trying to avoid a 3rd wave.

Everything is explained and linked-to in the article at sdl.re/COVIDcompetition.


Covid 19 Localisation Modelling – Background

In March in response to what seemed to be a big gap in the Government’s strategy.  We founded The Covid 19 Localisation Modelling.  We are a volunteer organisation  with about 100 contributors with multidisciplinary expertise.   We have created this course so young people can learn about Covid 19 and how to manage it in Local areas.  We believe it is very important to get young people involved so we created a free online course to teach young people how to model the outbreak in local areas.   Localisation is very important because living conditions and the progress of the viral outbreak are very different in every neighbourhood:   St Johns Wood vs Hackney;  Finchley is vs Chelsea;  Ealing vs Marylebone — all different.  And that extends across the UK:  Bristol vs Manchester; Birmingham vs York, Brighton vs Hull, etc — all different.   Because of this we believe each local can reap big benefits from having its own localised strategy.  

The complication is while Government can declare lockdowns, the effectiveness is only as good as the compliance and here in the UK compliance is, well, bad.   The most difficult cases are areas where people simply do not have the resources to stick to lockdowns, that is genuinely tragic because as we have seen the BAME communities have been most affected, partly because of the need to keep generating income and this puts them in harm’s way.   Less upsetting but equally difficult is, frankly, people are getting weary of lockdowns and all the restrictions, especially young people.   We have analysed this in detail in dozens of locations including London and young people circulating more freely is a major contributor to why we have surge in cases now and why we are in a lockdown.

What can be done about this?   We believe engaging young people in the debate and the analysis instead of just dictating to them.  The evidence is this is a very powerful lever for positive change: we have seen it happen.   We have been working constantly on an initiative to help young people understand what is happening with Covid 19 in local areas and have had much success internationally.   

  • We are working with 3 student interns at MIT in Cambridge Ma USA through the MISTI and IAP programs.  They are currently evaluating Covid 19 management plans and the issue of coordinating term schedules with other universities using the migration structures in our model.  They will be working on scale up and AI/Machine Learning later.
  • A group of University students in Mumbai just published this article under our guidance
  • We are presenting at a career development panel for Gather, the alumni network for Junior Achievement on Thursday (Junior Achievement have 100million members)
  • We have been working with other students in Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Greece, Dominican Republic, Haiti and many cities in the USA.

A notable exception has been in the UK.   Although are engaged extensively with the NHS Analyst community and we have worked with a handful of students here in the UK we have not succeeded in scaling up the way we think would really make a big difference.

We want to try to change that so we have launched a UK Covid 19 Lockdown challenge for young people last weekend.   The competition runs for 4 weeks in step with the lockdown and will be judged by a panel of experts.  Prizes are being awarded for the best analysis in two age groups:  Secondary school age and post-Secondary School age up to 24.


Funded PhD Studentship Opportunity: A System Dynamics Approach to the Economic Drivers of Health and Wellbeing – Glasgow

Category : Uncategorized

University of Glasgow – MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU)

Applications are invited for the above PhD studentship. SPHSU has a strong focus on developing and using cutting-edge methods to understand how social, behavioural, economic, political and environmental factors influence health and wellbeing. The studentship is aligned to the work of the multidisciplinary Systems science In Public Health and Health Economics Research Consortium (SIPHER), and will benefit from the academic and practice networks this brings. The Scottish Government, a SIPHER policy partner, is one of a group of Wellbeing Economy Governments, committed to create a robust, resilient wellbeing economy. This three-year PhD project will use participatory and system dynamics modelling to provide insight into the likely synergies and trade-offs involved with alternative political strategies designed to move towards that goal, with a particular focus on population health and health inequality outcomes.

You will have a first degree in a relevant, quantitative discipline, as well as a Masters degree (or equivalent experience) that has provided you with relevant technical modelling expertise (e.g. economics, operational research, computer science, transport, sustainability, infectious disease, population health science). Your primary supervisor will be Professor Petra Meier, with other SPHSU or SIPHER staff as appropriate to the successful candidate’s interests and skills.

Application deadline: 9 October 2020.

Further details: Advert for the studentship. Please carefully check eligibility criteria (only UK residents can get the stipend due to funders’ rules)


The Local-COVID-Course and Model

Category : News

A team of simulation modellers, supported by disease experts, has created an easy-to-use model of COVID-19 outbreaks. It can be ‘localised’ to any defined region, to answer basic questions:

What is happening around here

How might the outbreak play out?

How can the future be best-managed?  

The developers want to ‘democratise’ COVID policy by putting this model in the hands of millions of citizens, especially young people, so that anyone can answer those questions. A short online course at

covid-19-localisation-modelling.thinkific.com 

designed by young people who actually used the model for their communities – explains basic epidemic principles and how to use the model. Please take a look and if you think it could be useful, please share it, tweet it, Facebook it … 

 The model (at sdl.re/COVIDmodel):

relies on published research evidence, 

has been matched to models used by Governments, 

has been calibrated to a wide range of localities –

from cities like Jakarta and New York to smaller towns to city-slums and their surrounding regions. 

is totally transparent – every item is shown as time charts and every element can be seen and checked.

The developers are working with Foundations, NGOs, Healthcare Organisations, Governments and Commercial organisations to complement other pandemic-strategy efforts and understand issues relating to local areas that national models can’t address. 

The course and model are free for personal use. For any commercial need, please contact localisationvolunteer.mg@gmail.com.

Thank you : Kim Warren and Maurice Glucksman

Tel:+44 7802 485869 | LinkedIn profile

The local-COVID-course and model
Dynamic modeling course | Sheetless modeling software | YouTube Channel


Job Opportunity: Funded PhD studentship – Sustainability and Health Transformation of the Urban Built Environment

Category : Job Opportunities

UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering

28 May 2020

UCL are accepting applications for a funded PhD studentship aiming to support collaborative and system-wide decision-making, with a focus on organisation studies, sustainability and health in the built environment. Global uncertainties such as climate change pose complex challenges for the urban built environment, environmental sustainability and people’s health. Ill-designed strategies frequently cause unintended consequences. A multiplicity of interdependencies makes decision-making on the urban built environment highly complex. Existing models and tools are inadequate to deal with such complexity. This project will help transform decision-making in the urban built environment towards a more collaborative and system-wide approach. 

Further details: see the advert for the studentship.

Applications welcomed until 18 June 2020. As the studentship primarily targets European students, you need to comment on your eligibility to the studentship in your application.


Summer Newsletter 2020

Category : News , Recent

System Dynamics meets COVID-19

On the morning of the 28th May the UK Chapter of the SD Society held an AGM with a difference by turning it into an opportunity to showcase modelling work in support of COVID-19 responses.  After a brief demonstration of how a stock and flow model provides a natural basis for the spread of a virus, over 80 participants in the online session were introduced to three examples of applied SD modelling in the context of COVID-19. Speakers: 

  • Kim Warren, Strategy Dynamics Ltd;
  • Mark Gregson, Consultant with the Whole Systems Partnership;
  • Erik Pruyt, Center for Policy Exploration Analysis and Simulation in the Netherlands.

Watch all the presentations
Read the report and access PowerPoint slides.


UK Chapter Annual Conference 2020

On April 2nd this year, the chapter held a very successful online conference, replacing the two-day one that had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you want to revisit the talks you heard, or, if you missed our meeting, you can watch the conference on YouTube. Individual talks can also be accessed on our YouTube channel.

Details of conference

Although we were disappointed not to hold the Glasgow meeting this year, the good news is that next years’ conference will be at the same venue: Strathclyde University on 25-26th March 2021. We look forward to seeing you next year in Glasgow.


Outstanding Contribution Award

At the 2020 conference, Kim Warren was awarded for his outstanding contribution to system dynamics in the United Kingdom.

Kim Warren is an experienced strategy professional, teacher and writer. He has held senior strategy roles in business and academic positions at the London Business school for over 20 years, teaching on MBA and Executive programmes.

Read more …


System Dynamics meets COVID-19: Report

Category : Events , News

On the morning of the 28th May the UK Chapter of the SD Society held an AGM with a difference by turning it into an opportunity to showcase modeling work in support of COVID-19 responses.  After a brief demonstration of how a stock and flow model provides a natural basis for the spread of a virus, over 80 participants in the online session were introduced to three examples of applied SD modelling in the context of COVID-19.  The talks took us from Manilla, via the garden of England in Kent down the Greenwich Meridian (roughly) to Namibia and then to Peru!  

In each case the presenters described the rapid adoption of SD modelling to support decision making, highlighting the importance of local models that pick up both the distinctive nature of demographics and the policies open to leaders.  Other themes to emerge included the highly sensitive nature of epidemic models, particularly in the early stages of spread and when the precise characteristics relating to infectivity and spread and novel, which made it vital to use an approach such as system dynamics in which there is the opportunity for rapid iteration of model versions and the transparency of model structure and behaviour to ensure engagement of key decision makers.

The talks are now available below along with pdf copies of the presentation material.

Video of meeting

Kim Warren, Strategy Dynamics Ltd. Local outbreaks and local issues need local models. SLIDES

Mark Gregson, Whole Systems Partnership. Reflections on developing a whole system demand and capacity model for an Integrated Health and Care System in the UK. SLIDES

Erik Pruyt, Center for Policy Exploration Analysis and Simulation in the Netherlands, Aggregated Systems Models towards Integrated Assessment Models linking COVID19 Epidemics, Economics, Livelihood across National, Regional and Local Scales: the Cases of Namibia, the Netherlands, and Peru. SLIDES


System Dynamics meets COVID-19

Category : Events , Recent

An online event show-casing applications of SD modelling in response to the current pandemic.

Hosted by the UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Society, and incorporating its AGM

9:30 for 10am start on 28th May 2020 with the AGM at 12:15pm

Please sign up at Eventbrite

The event is free

The event will briefly describe how system dynamics is suited to the modelling of an epidemic and a generic approach that will be reflected in three key contributions:
 
Kim Warren, Strategy Dynamics Ltd, will describe his work with Maurice Glucksman with the Pan-African Network for Rapid Research, Response & Preparedness for Infectious Diseases Epidemic (PANDORA) entitled Local outbreaks and local issues need local models.

Mark Gregson, Consultant with the Whole Systems Partnership, will outline his work in the Kent & Medway system entitled Reflections on developing a whole system demand and capacity model for an Integrated Health and Care System in the UK.

Erik Pruyt, Center for Policy Exploration Analysis and Simulation in the Netherlands, will speak on Aggregated Systems Models towards Integrated Assessment Models linking COVID19 Epidemics, Economics, Livelihood across National, Regional and Local Scales: the Cases of Namibia, the Netherlands, and Peru.


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