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Dr. William Kennedy opens fall CSS seminar program

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The first CSS seminar speaker for the fall semester will be William G. Kennedy, Ph.D, Captain, USN (Ret.), Research Faculty, Center for Social Complexity, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University. Dr. Kennedy’s talk entitled “Characterizing the reaction of the population of NYC to a nuclear WMD” (abstract below) is scheduled for Friday, September 1 and will begin at 3:00 in the Center for Social Complexity Suite located on the 3rd floor of Research Hall. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session along with light refreshments. The presentation will be streamed on our YouTube channel.

Abstract: This talk will review the status of our multi-year project to characterize the reaction of the population of a US megacity to a nuclear WMD event. Our approach is to develop an agent-based model of the New York City area, with agents representing each of the 20-25 million people, and establish a baseline of normal behaviors before exploring the population’s reactions to small (5-10Kt) nuclear weapon explosions. In our first year, we explored understanding a large population’s reaction to a nuclear WMD event with four major activities: (1) reviewing existing social theories and reports of disaster behavior, (2) collecting data and modeling the infrastructure of a mega-city and surrounding region, (3) generating synthetic population, and (4) developing an agent-based model of all the individuals in the region. The review of social science theories and data on individual/group behavior during disasters led to the publication of a case study (the Flint River drinking water crisis) and preparation of two review papers. For the New York City mega-city and surrounding area, we collected spatial, demographic, and workforce data from several sources and devised methods and algorithms to make the data useful for our simulation. Using Python, we processed road data and created one connected network forming the transportation layer of the model. Using demographic data and our own heuristics, again in Python, we synthesized individuals, their households, their associated schools and workplaces and finally their social networks. Other datasets were utilized so that children attend nearby schools or daycare constrained with actual capacities and people are employed in workplaces located nearby matching workforce data. Finally, we began modeling individuals’ movement in three counties, two rural counties and one in the heart of Manhattan. I will start with a discussion of the effects of a nuclear WMD event and then discuss the details our work and our future plans.

Please visit Seminar Calendar to see list of upcoming seminars.