Agent Based Simulation in Public Policy Essay

Total Length: 597 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

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Discussion: Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation

Agent-based modeling and simulation allows for organizations to look at their individual parts and players (the agents) to see how they perform in a simulation. In today’s society, situations can develop rapidly as information spreads via social media, and policy makers have to be prepared to address situations as they arise virtually instantaneously. One problem that I can envision is where agent-based modeling and simulation may be useful in the public sector in response to a situation where public administrators have to respond to an accusation made towards a member of their administration regarding sexual misconduct. In such a situation, the spotlight of the public can be bright and intense and any misstep by the administration could result in a barrage of ill-will and condemnation from the public.

To adequately prepare an administration for such a situation, agent-based modeling and simulation may be very useful in the public sector. First, it would allow the various members of the administration to dry run a potential scandal of this nature to see what steps are appropriate and what steps are inappropriate. For example, should the administration immediately come out and condemn their colleague before any evidence has been submitted, the simulation would show what effects this has on the psyche and opinions of simulated constituents.

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Just like in a business, where a simulation could be run to gauge the effectiveness of a customer service technique, here the same idea would apply: the public administrator would have multiple opportunities to test various approaches so as to find the right balance between coming out too hard or too soft against any accusations. In the public, perception is very important and understanding how perceptions are shaped by individual agents in the public sector via simulation can help to fortify the effectiveness of that administration when facing potential problems that could upset the public.

As Salamon (2011) points out, computer simulations can be developed to help provide a better understanding of social processes, which can be very useful in the public sector. In a sense, it is like taking the choose-your-own-adventure concept and applying it to the real world. Professionals can see how their actions and approaches to problem-solving play out in a simulation. This allows them to obtain a better sense of how all the parts of a situation play together and interact to create an environment….....

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Salamon, T. (2011). Design of agent-based models: Developing computer simulations for a better understanding of social processes. The Czech Republic: Tomas Bruckner Publishers.

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