Strategic Modelling to Support Decision Making for the North: Report

Report on Meeting, 22nd October, 2019, University of Salford

UK Chapter of the International System Dynamics Society and THINKLab, University of Salford

The UK SD Chapter and THINKlab at the University of Salford, Manchester held a special event exploring strategic modelling to support decision making for the North of England. Demand for the event was so high that we had to find a larger room to accommodate everyone who wanted to come!

The focus of the event was on the application of models, whether qualitative or quantitative, to improve our understanding of complex situations. The key aim being to support better informed decisions. The presentations described a range of projects where Systems Thinking and System Dynamics based approaches have, and are, being used in the North of England.




Siôn Cave (President of the UK Chapter / Decision Analysis Service Ltd)
Hisham Tariq (THINKLab)

Chapter Presentation, THINKLab Presentation

Applying System Dynamics to support strategic decision making within the Nuclear Sector

Siôn Cave (President of the UK Chapter / Decision Analysis Service Ltd)


The Nuclear sector is a key economic driver for the North of England. Siôn described some examples where system dynamics has been applied to support strategic decision making in the nuclear sector, including workforce modelling and the management of radioactive waste. He discussed how the stages of the system dynamics modelling approach were utilised to support robust policy analysis.

Public Sector Integration – Understanding and monitoring complex pathways


Leo Wall, Kasia Noone & Paul Holme (Manchester City Council)

Leo and Kasia’s presentation covered the approach to research and evaluation of integrated health and social care service in Manchester. This included the approach to evaluating new models of integrated care, mapping activity and financial flows, segmenting the population based on past and likely future need to high intensity services and forecasting future demand within the health and social care system.  The presentation covered the approaches taken in Manchester and how the findings are developing understanding and being fed into commissioning and service delivery decisions.

A Polycentric Pan-Northern economy – Modelling Economic Transformation Through Transport Connections

Jack Snape (Transport for the North)


Jack described that there is a growing consensus on the need to re-balance the economy away from London and the South East to other parts of the country, including the North of England. Key policy levers available to drive this re-balancing include skills, local industrial strategy and transport investment. Under the banner of the Northern Powerhouse, the Government and Northern leaders established Transport for the North, a new statutory body. TfN’s role is to make the case for transformational transport investment that would enable the North to function as a single economic area. By pooling the economies of the North’s major towns and cities, labour markets and trade networks would be expanded to a level that could begin to compete with London.

Traditional incremental economic models and appraisal methods do not capture the non-marginal market failures that have developed over decades of poor connectivity between the North’s cities. Jack described how TfN is developing dynamic systems-based modelling tools and a mission-oriented appraisal framework that begin to address these issues, as well as interactions with the wider policy landscape including skills and planning policy. These radical new tools and approaches have applications beyond transport investment business cases and could help strengthen analytical capability in a wide range of public bodies.

Whaley Bridge Dam Emergency: How SD can help Decision Makers Understand evacuation behaviour

Hisham Tariq (THINKLab)

Understanding human behaviour in response to a disaster and our ability to capture it in a dynamic model is a valuable addition to policy analysis and could help better design future emergency evacuations. Hisham gave a brief presentation on how evacuation decisions can be modelled using System Dynamics followed by an interactive session.

Event Close

Siôn Cave (President of the UK Chapter / Decision Analysis Service Ltd)