A Risk Sciences International glossary definition (Last modifed: December 15, 2023)

modelling and decision support

« Back to Glossary Index


What is Modelling and Decision Support?

When decisions require understanding complex systems, models can help. The modelling process takes a real-life process and distills it into a format that can be readily manipulated to help us to understand how the process works. This model can then be used to explore specific questions and provide measurable answers that aid organisations in making tough decisions. Although models necessarily represent simplifications of reality, experienced modellers are able to construct useful models that can help identify the critical elements of complex risk decisions.

Who benefits from Modelling and Decision Support?

Any organisation facing complex risk decisions will benefit from modelling and decision support. Regardless of the nature of the risk decision challenges an organization is facing, a carefully constructed model can lead to insight on the most critical aspects of the risk decision. Models can also identify key sources of uncertainty where the collection of additional information can lead to greater clarity in decision making. Although models provide valuable insights on risk decisions, it is important to remember that modelling results provide support to the decision-maker, who will ultimately consider additional factors in making the best possible decision on the risk issue of concern.

A good risk model will incorporate all of the critical factors that should be considered in risk decision making, as well as the dynamics among these factors.

George Box

“Essentially, all models are wrong,
but some are useful.”
George Box

The Service

RSI’s Modelling and Decision Support offer, broadly

At RSI, we construct models for multiple applications, including contamination of food, environmental exposures, and transmission of infectious disease. RSI also constructs informative models of disease development that can be used to suggest cost-effective interventions for disease control. RSI models public health and economic impacts that are related to major risk decisions.

RSI’s Modelling and Decision Support offer, in detail

RSI works with clients to understand the risk issues of concern to them, and to define the critical questions to be addressed through modelling and decision support. Building a useful model involves discussions with clients to support the development of the best possible model to meet their specific needs. This includes asking questions like what are the specific risks? How are the risks realised? Who are the bearers of the risk? What are the options for controlling the risk?

Based on an understanding of the situation, models are developed to describe the underlying processes and relationships that define the risk. We use a range of modelling techniques and adopt the approach that is best suited to the client’s specific risk decision-making needs. These techniques range from narrowly focussed applications involving relatively simple risk models, to much more sophisticated simulation-based models that describe complex systems in detail. RSI has applied such models in emergency health care planning, infectious disease modelling, and transportation systems.

RSI appreciates that knowledge and data may not always be ideal. Although data limitations can introduce uncertainty into the decision-making, we use our models and expertise to understand this uncertainty and its influence on risk decision-making. When necessary, RSI experts may conduct value-of-information analyses to gauge the extent to which gathering additional information to reduce uncertainty could be beneficial to our clients.

What are the benefits of Modelling and Decision Support?

RSI can help clients to make the best possible risk decisions in the presence of uncertainty.

Complex decisions cannot be made intuitively. RSI’s modelling and decision support services permit the evaluation and synthesis of complex data, leading to rigorous characterization of risks, and the expected impact of risk reduction actions. Uncertainties in risk are calibrated, and the influence of uncertainty on decision-making analyzed.

By applying state-of-the-art risk modelling techniques RSI can be a great help to clients in making the best possible risk decisions in the presence of uncertainty.

What can you expect?

In developing a risk model or decision support tool, the RSI process begins with client engagement and understanding of client needs. RSI will analyze the nature of the risk decision facing the client, and propose a solution commensurate with the complexity of the problem. Following implementation of the solution, RSI provides a detailed explanation of and report on its work in characterizing risks and uncertainties, and works with clients to help select the best possible risk solution. Depending on client needs, RSI is able to provide clients with user-friendly in-house, decision-support tools that they can use to undertake future analyses of ongoing risk issues of concern to them on their own.

What is our expertise in Modelling and Decision Support?

RSI experts are internationally recognised in the development of risk models and decision-support tools.

RSI experts are internationally recognised in the development of risk models and decision-support tools for clients in both the private and public sectors. RSI provided modeling and decision support services across the public risk landscape including food safety regulatory support, transportation system safety and security, public safety of engineered devices (e.g. elevators), and healthcare planning.

RSI has also provided training on the use of its decision-support tools around the world including Canada, the United States, Taiwan, China, and others.

« Back to Glossary Index