Qureshi, Wolf Published on Better System Dynamics Modeling for Community Recovery Planning

Facilitating effective decision-making about complex, tightly interwoven community physical and social infrastructures can be challenging because it requires understanding how many components interact and potential cascading impacts. System Dynamics, a computer-aided modeling approach, helps map the relationships in complex systems using an array of diagrams.

Rameez Qureshi

But complexity can make typical illustrations hard to understand — and to explain to nontechnical decision-makers such as public officials.

In a new article, published in the most recent System Dynamics Review, Rameez Qureshi, PhD, a Water Resource Planning engineer in Houston, and Chuck Wolf, DEng, PE, BCEE, our Western Gulf Coast Division Manager, explain a four-pronged matrix system for improved modeling to better understand and manage the complexity of community infrastructure recovery following a disaster.

The paper, “Descriptive design structure matrices for improved system dynamics qualitative modeling,” provides a template for a Descriptive Design Structure Matrix (DDSM) and describes testing conducted to demonstrate its effectiveness for understanding community infrastructure interactions.

They write that the DDSM is “a qualitative system dynamics modeling tool and approach for systems with many elements and more interactions that can reasonably be modeled individually using traditional system dynamics methods. A DDSM consists of four parallel and internally consistent matrices that describe system interactions with binary relations, nontechnical text, technical text, and literature support. By including and documenting system information in multiple forms, DDSMs facilitate multiple stages of system dynamics modeling, improve modeler communication with system participants and domain experts, and improve model rigor.”

Chuck Wolf

In addition to his expertise in managing water infrastructure projects, Chuck is a Professor of Practice in construction engineering and management at Texas A&M University.

Rameez, one of Chuck’s former students, joined Freese and Nichols in 2022 after completing his PhD in Community Disaster Recovery Resourcing Strategy Design and Assessment. This paper is built from work Rameez did during his master’s and PhD research.

Their co-author, David Ford, is a professor at Virginia Tech University, formerly at Texas A&M.

System Dynamics Review is published by the System Dynamics Society.

Read “Descriptive design structure matrices for improved system dynamics qualitative modeling”