Simulation Exercise

| May 18, 2015

Simulation Exercise

Order Description

This exercise is designed to familiarise you with multi-variable planning simulations. You will need to use a simple online simulation, manipulate several variables and report on your observations of how different relationships between variables influenced the outcome of the simulation.

Simulation Exercise Instructions
Purpose
This exercise is designed to familiarise you with multi-variable planning simulations. You will need to use a simple online simulation, manipulate several variables and report on your observations of how different relationships between variables influenced the outcome of the simulation.

Task
Go to https://mattbierbaum.github.io/zombies-usa/
This simulation uses a zombie outbreak to simulate a pandemic virus spread across the US. The tool is actually optimised for realistic disease spread simulation, it only uses zombie infection to capitalise on the recent popularity of the genre (something which the CDC and FEMA have also done recently in their public education campaigns for disease control and disaster preparedness).
For our purposes, the simulation will represent a contagion which has been identified as an emerging threat vector for national security policy. Your task will be to prepare a simulation report identifying high and low risk factors for two variables: communicability and incubation period.
For the outbreak simulation, bite-to-kill ratio represents communicability (how easily the contagion is spread) and speed represents incubation period (the period when the infected are asymptomatic).
The third variable in the simulation represent calculations per turn, which is related to the scale of the simulation. You don’t need to use this for the exercise, but you might want to play around with it to get a sense of how it affects outcomes (just ensure that the simulations you run for comparison use the same scale setting).
You will need to run four versions of the simulation:
•    Low communicability / low incubation period
•    High communicability / low incubation period
•    Low communicability / high incubation period
•    High communicability / high incubation period

This will allow you to compare the result in a simple 2×2 matrix analysis (similar to the risk and threat assessments from the workshops).
Ensure that you record (write down) the settings you use for each simulation run so that you can explain the justification for your settings and accurately compare the outcomes of each run.
You will also need to ensure that the simulation runs are the same (except for the variables you are manipulating). So pick the same point on the map to start and run the simulation for the same number of hours each time. I’d suggest running the sim for 672 hours (or longer) and only using one point on the map as multiple vectors can dramatically increase the time it takes to run the algorithm.

Report
Once you have recorded: a) the settings you used for each possibility and b) the outcomes of each simulation run, you will need to report your findings.
The report should be 800-1,000 words long (including tables).
It should include the way you define each variable and each measure (technically an attribute of a variable) you used – i.e. what does communicability/incubation period mean in your simulation? What constitutes “high” and “low” for each variable? Be specific here – a flimsy explanation like “high means more than low” will ruin your assignment. It the workplace it might get you fired.
It then needs to compare the results and explain the relationship between settings and outcomes. This is the crucial component of the exercise. Does one variable have a great impact than the other? Are all of the outcomes significantly different? Is the range between lower risk settings and higher risk settings large or small? These kinds of questions are important because they use simulation data to draw out important understandings and questions about our assumptions and predictions.
Finally, make some reflective judgments about how using different simulation settings informed your matrix analysis of risk factors for an infectious disease outbreak.

Structure
1.    Brief introduction/overview
o    2-3 sentences on the simulation’s objectives and findings
o    Be sure to link your aims with your findings (i.e. what were you trying to accomplish and how did the simulations answer your questions?)
2.    Methodology
o    Explain the definitions of variables you used
o    Justify why you defined them in that way
o    Explain the settings you used for the simulation
3.    Results
o    Provide a table of your key findings
o    Explain your observations from running the simulations
4.    Conclusions
o    Compare your findings from the four simulations
o    This is the most important part of the task so focus on explaining what you interpreted from the data
5.    Judgments
o    Briefly reflect on your use of different simulation settings to explore the (multi-path analysis) problem

Assessment Criteria
1.    Simulation completed as per instructions
2.    Simulation attributes/variables clearly defined and justified
3.    Report structured per instructions
4.    Logical inferences drawn from simulation data
5.    Critical thinking applied in reflection task
6.    Clear and concise communication

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