top of page

Jeremy Bricker

University of Michigan

Breakout Room 4.


behavior; simulation; evacuation; infrastructure; policy

How can the human dimensions of disaster impacts be more accurately captured and represented in the analysis, modeling and simulation of disasters?

The most difficult part of representing humans in simulation of disasters is understanding what rules to implement to model the choices that people make. For example; if a tsunami is imminent; will people take individual responsibility to evacuate themselves; or will they remain in (or head into) dangerous territory to check if their family evacuated? Similarly; over a longer timeframe; will individuals grow complacent and build in a hazardous area; or will they steer safe of this? Being able to predict the decisions that people make; within the context of their cultures; is necessary in order to propose effective measures for reducing disaster risk.

What type of data and supporting research infrastructure would be necessary to enable novel, transdisciplinary approaches to answering these and other human-centered disaster questions?

Collaboration among behavioral scientists; policy experts; and engineers is necessary. Behavioral scientists can most accurately predict how individuals will react to a given disaster scenario (including preparation; response; recovery; as well as the inter-event period). Policy experts are needed to understand how proposed policies would actually influence people. Engineers simulate both physical disaster countermeasures; as well as implement people in their models as agents or the like; based on the rules determined by behavioral scientists; for policies deemed practical and effective. However; it is difficult for engineers; behavioral scientists; and policy experts to develop networks that include each other; except in the case of very experienced colleagues. Therefore; useful research infrastructure would include a way for these researchers to connect or jump onto teams together. This would be especially helpful for young researchers who don’t yet have such networks; and thereby inject some youthful energy into the field.

In what ways can US-Japan collaborations advance these questions in new and important ways?

Japan is a country where the populace has traditionally held strong trust in their government to protect them; though this trust was heavily eroded in 2011; resulting in a renewed push for individuals to take responsibility for their own safety; together with a campaign of protective infrastructure construction by the government to try to regain the trust of the populace. The US is a country where much of the populace deeply distrusts their government; resulting in a lack of protective infrastructure together with a strong sense of individual responsibility for one’s own safety. These both contrast with a country like the Netherlands; where the populace holds such a strong trust in the government and its protective infrastructure; that individual awareness and preparedness for disaster among the populace is extremely weak.

bottom of page