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  • The Center for Understanding Change

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  • leverages the deep scientific knowledge of its partners

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  • plus stakeholder models and data

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  • to gain a broader insight on shared, complex issues
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  • particularly when stakeholders have trust issues

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What is C4UC?

The Center for Understanding Change (C4UC) is a nonprofit research center focused on understanding the impact of global changes and risk to critical infrastructure. We help our constituents understand the ripple effects of their actions and how specific changes and events affect them. We do this by leveraging the massive intellectual (and financial) investment in deep data models and advanced decision-making theory by tying them into an integrated analytical tool.

Operationally, we have three main functions: perform research in the public interest; develop resources for use by the public to facilitate research in the public interest; and educate the public in areas related to that research.

 

What's special about us?

We have three key components to our research.

First, we are building a resource that allows systems-dynamics models (and other model types) to interoperate in a federation fashion, allowing the ad hoc creation of “super-models” that can run simultaneously, as if the resulting supermodel was created as a single model. At the same time, we enable the reluctant stakeholders to have their confidential models and data interoperate with models and data from other stakeholders (with perhaps conflicting interests), allowing the joint resources to be applied to a common problem without exposing sensitive data or algorithms between stakeholders. The resource we are building will also allow different model types, for instance system dynamic models and agent-based models, to interact.

Second, we are building resources to visualize the findings of these interacting models. Key to this is enabling the non-scientist decision-maker to understand the implication of the results of exercising the “super-models” (above), particularly the sensitivities of those models to various inaccuracies and unknowns. This new, implicit visualization is critical to our third key area.

Finally, our third key area of our research is applies three-dimensional Bayesian analysis techniques to quickly identify where additional research is necessary before a non-scientist manager can make an informed decision. The goal is rapid decision analysis of complex and mission-critical issues.

The Stakeholder Problem

Better decisions require bigger pictures

Models and data held by stakeholders focus on a specific prospective. This singular view is incomplete because it lacks the bigger picture for identifying and understanding inconsequential effects.  What CIPDSS, and other efforts like it are attempting to do, is to provide a basis for exploring challenges within a more complete context.  What we really would like is to have combine the models and date from all stakeholders (and other resources), all rolled up into a larger, “supermodel” that we could use to better understand the complexities of our decisions, and to test our theories and proposed solutions.  Individual stakeholder often have quite good models and data, but their models have a limited view of the internal workings of other stakeholders. In their models, they must make critical assumptions about other stakeholders.

The challenge is that stakeholders have differing interests are in general have an unwillingness to share their models and data for such a "supermodel."  These models and data are often highly sensitive as well: exposing them to outsiders(or even potential competitors) just isn't going to happen.

C4UC's breakthrough technology has provided a path to allow these stakeholders to connect their models and data into such a "supermodel" and to do so from behind their own firewall, never exposing their sensitive information to others. Contact us if you'd like a briefing on how this is achieved.

 

Research Area: Infrastructure

At the core of C4UC is its leverage of the Critical Infrastructure Decision Support System (CIPDSS) - a set of 1200 interconnected system dynamics models to explore how impacts in one area of critical infrastructure impacts other, seemingly unrelated areas. These models were built in a joint effort by Sandia National Labs, Argonne National Lab, and Los Alamos National Lab. Funded by the Department of Homeland Security, the CIPDSS models are now part of NISAC, the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center. CIPDSS (and NISAC) was used in exploring potential actions in response to Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, the H1N1 Flu epidemic, Fukashima, and other issues with massive public impact.

 

Research Area: Intersection of Healthcare and the Economy

Regardless of your position on the subject, “Obamacare” is a given. Many industries will be deferentially impacted. The impact of “Obamacare” on heath and insurance industries has been well explored, but the potential for impact on other industries, seemingly unrelated, has not been subject to significant scrutiny.

Much legistration has been proposed that promises to significantly alter “Obamacare.” It is prudent to understand what the impact of such legislation would be on industry sectors (not just health and insurance). 

C4UC has developed technology that facilities the integration of models of critical infrastructure with other, public and private models, into a configurable “supermodel” for the express purpose of scenario exploration to support analysis of alternatives. 

With the Healthcare project, C4UC have pooled resources with partners in the economic forecasting space to leverage their joint assets to explore the ramifications of proposed healthcare legislation on industry sectors outside of healthcare.