Monday, 18 October 2010

Could models get us all involved in Big Society?

Would I like to have a go at mathematical modelling? It's the kind of question that brings back all the sweaty-palmed anxieties of school algebra tests. And yet, one Relu project has worked with a group of "non-experts" who were enthusiastic about incorporating their local knowledge into computer models of flood risk in their home town. Together, academics and residents have come up with a brand new proposal, now being piloted, that could solve a serious, real-life flooding problem. The team also found that, unsurprisingly, many people have a deep mistrust of computer models, because although they are generally "rightish" for most of people most of the time, they may be completely wrong for the particular place where you live. But although professional expertise may fall down on the particular, this is exactly where local expertise can add a new dimension, improve accuracy and give residents greater confidence in the model's projections. Perhaps this could be Big Society in action?

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