Centre for Policy Modelling News

News from the Centre for Policy Modelling, including announcements of: new papers, special issues, books, workshops, projects, jobs and study opportunities.

13 October, 2014

New Model available: A Complex Model of Voter Turnout

Please cite as:
Edmonds, Bruce, Lessard-Phillips, Laurence, Fieldhouse, Ed (2014, October 13). "A Complex Model of Voter Turnout" (Version 1). CoMSES Computational Model Library. Retrieved from: https://www.openabm.org/model/4368
Developed as part of the SCID project.

Abstract
This is intended as a “Data Integration Model” (Edmonds 2010b). That is a consistent, detailed and dynamic description, in the form of an agent-based simulation, of the available evidence concerning the question of why people bother to vote. This integrates a variety of kinds and qualities of evidence. Thus it follows a “KIDS” rather than a “KISS” methodology - it aims to be more guided by the available evidence rather than simplicity (Edmonds & Moss 2005).

Thus this is a complex model, with many different social processes interweaving. Although not specifically designed as such, it turns out that the model has distinct “layers”. These are:
  • The input data which initialises the agents in new households (at the start or in-coming households)
  • The demographic processes: immigration, emmigration, partnering, birth, death, ageing etc.
  • The social network that develops and changes between agents (representing a relationship that would allow a political discussion if the agents were so minded)
  • The social influence via political discussions that can occur over the network
  • The decisions and processes which determine whether agents vote or not
The purpose of this model is to enable the exploration of some social processes behind voter turnout, including demographic trends in household size and composition, social influence via the social networks the individuals are embedded within, wider social norms such as civic duty, personal habit and identity, as well as individual rationality. Thus this model is an explanatory model - it demonstrates the plausibility of (complicated) explanations of outcomes from the initial set-up.

It is important to understand that this is NOT a simulation with free-parameters that are conditioned on some “in-sample” data. It does have a lot of parameters, but these are set (or could be set) from empirical data.

29 September, 2014

3 new CfPM funded projects!

Grants are like buses... none for ages and then 3 come at once.

1. A Marie-Curie ITN: Social Science Aspects of Fisheries for the 21st Century
SAF21 is an interdisciplinary and intersectoral network that embeds the social scientists of the future into EU fisheries management systems. It trains experts in analysis of human social behaviour for the better management of socio-ecological complex systems such as fisheries. Behaviour of fishers is complex as trust building and norms acceptance influence compliance with fishing regulations in unpredictable ways. The desired behaviour of fishers is often different from the actual subsequent one as those involved adapt to and find ways around new regulatory regimes, often with catastrophic consequences on resources. Therefore, an integrated understanding of the fine mechanisms governing fishers’ behaviour in relation with the regulative processes is needed, to the benefit of decision makers, fishing industry and the environment alike. Academic research and training have insufficiently reflected this need.
SAF21 will contribute to rectifying this by training researchers in using tools of the 21st century, e.g. computational sociology techniques, to analyse this topic from a multitude of angles: public understanding of fisheries, trust and norms, social and regulative norms, social marketing of fisheries norms, stakeholders interaction in different management systems and socio-economic resilience.
This knowledge will initiate the development of innovative management strategies, especially when it comes to shifting to new regulatory regimes. The wide-ranging training envisaged will offer a structured doctoral training in academic and transferable skills in addition to highly intersectoral non-academic mobility opportunities. Thus, the SAF21 candidates will have the necessary skills and experience to cross disciplines and work sectors. SAF21 will provide researchers the opportunity to fulfill their scientific social responsibility at a higher level than conventional doctoral programs, by ensuring significant time and training for public engagement and outreach.
1. A H2020 project:  Digital Do It Yourself
Digital do it yourself (DiDIY) is a new socio-technological phenomenon in which the widespread availability of digital devices supporting the convergence of physical and informational components and the growing accessibility of knowledge and data through open online communities presage scenarios in which the distinction between users and producers of physical artefacts is fuzzy and new opportunities and threats emerge. DiDIY-related technologies and social practices amplify the creativity and skills of individuals who affordably develop digitally self-made objects, e.g., unique-by-design objects designed by 3D modelling software and generated by 3D printers or networked smart objects equipped with microcontrollers dealing with context information via sensors and actuators. Two network effects catalyse DiDIY: what is custom produced by an individual could be the outcome of contributions from a world-wide community of developers sharing their interest towards open innovation, thus operating as knowledge multiplier; what is made available here and now by a smart object could be the aggregation of signals from a set of sources in the network, thus operating as information extender.
In this (presumed) industrial revolution the project aims at:
  • setting a conceptual framework to explore the impact of DiDIY,
  • producing information, models and guidelines to support education and policy making on DiDIY that, while enabled by technology, should be driven by social and cultural strategies
 The project will study how DiDIY is
  • reshaping organization and work, education and research,
  • impacting on social and legal systems
  • changing creative design and ethics.
The development of a systemic interpretation is the challenge for the multidisciplinary project team, which will collaboratively explore a complex phenomenon with implications on identity, privacy, reputation, responsibility and safety and will offer a roadmap fostering a DiDIY-based human-centric European development.
 3. A project with Manchester City Council:  Insight to Intervention


The scope of this project will principally focus on the development of a family typology & risk tool, but will also requires some elements of broader analysis to support the development of these tools, for example understanding how demand for service is generated by particular presenting issues (a child safeguarding concern is not in itself an issue, but rather a results of risk factors in the family as a whole).

This project would have the following aims:

  1. To identify the relative proportions of different kinds of antecedent events that precedes the family coming into the TF category allowing an approximate assessment of potential indicators of risk.
  1. To cluster families into different types depending on their similarity, to see if there is a sensible categorisation of kinds of situation they are in.  This could allow a better understanding of the dimensions under which TFs differ or whether there is simply a continuous range of cases.
  1. To understand how the places that people live and the dynamics of that place affect the people / families that live or migrate there. For example, changes in local housing allowances have led to a natural movement of the most vulnerable into lowest value rental areas.

11 September, 2014

Workshop on Modelling Routines 25th Nov 2014, Manchester

Guest speaker will be Professor Alan Warde, of the University of Manchester's Sustainable Consumption Institute.

Venue: the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School.
MMUBS Building 

More details (when we know them) at: http://modellingroutines.wordpress.com

01 April, 2014

Workshop on "Complexity in real world practices: reshaping the relationships" @ ECCS 2014

A Workshop we are Co-organising:

Complexity in real world practices: reshaping the relationships
ECCS 2014, 22-26 September, Lucca, Italy. Satellite Meeting to the main Conference.
Since the ECCS foundation in 2004, a number of meetings have been organized at the ECCS conferences dealing with how Complexity Science might inform about and provide leverage within socioeconomic contexts and policy oriented practices. This meeting is meant to keep alive that discussion and help bring together an inter-disciplinary community who, since the first event, has progressively attracted people from different domains. Thus this workshop provides a direct “interface” to the policy world for the more academic research elsewhere at ECCS, facilitating a dialogue between the policy world and the ECCS community.
In addition, over the last few years several initiatives in universities and EU projects have explored these issues with the spread of the complexity oriented literature into many disciplinary fields.
While the merits of complexity studies are praised on a methodological grounds, their impact on real-world organizations is still limited. The reasons are manifold and may be attributed to the difficulties that private and public organizations have in understanding the impact of this paradigm which, besides dismantling the old one, encroaches on the possibility created by the dramatic progress in ICT and in computational power.
The questions raised in today’s application of complexity approaches tend to polarize around two main themes:
  1. A conceptual one: designing lines of enquire to address substantial issues for the future of organizations, such as those concerning goals definition, cooperative behaviour and agents engagement on a collective basis (e.g. learning to learn in order to cooperate and build more resilient organizations);
  2. An operational one: developing new techniques for data gathering, information processing and visualization, to manage the increasingly large data source made available by ICT devices.
These questions are also crucial to those involved in policy activities, as they underpin the emerging requirements for open government. However, the opportunity to better articulate the relationships between the above themes is however crucial and the meeting will provide ground for their discussion.
The webpage for this workshop will be linked to: http://www.eccs14.eu/

28 February, 2014

New Introduction to ABM course, 8th & 9th July 2014 #cfpm

This is offered as part of the University of Manchester‘s “Methods@ManchesterSummer School

The course website with materials and structure etc. is at: http://cfpm.org/simulationcourse/

For more information about the Summer School as a whole or to register for the course go to: