Modelling in Practice : Survey of Municipalities

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Do you think that your municipality would benefit from having greater access to statistical data or have better opportunities to make simulations based on the modeling of future scenarios?

A survey was conducted of municipalities in Sweden with respect to their need of and preparedness for scenario modelling and a workshop conducted with relevant agencies.

The report presents some interesting results highlighting a widely accepted need for more modelling, but also common problems in respect of staff, data and computing resources.

While the majority believed the approach useful, comments suggest most faced practical difficulties in using sophisticated models. A sizable minority felt that this made extending their use impractical, only a few felt they had sufficient information at present. A typical comment was :

“There is generally a need for a simple way to get a good basis for decisions. The demands are constantly increasing for risk analysis of various kinds, while demands for fast processes and simplicity increases elsewhere. Good tools are important to meet these different types of expectations. “

However :

“We are very understaffed, so we would have the most benefit from simple models (easy to handle). However, this would be a great help when needing to relatively quickly produce a forecast when not wanting to deliver all data to the consultant, then wait for an answer, and then still have to revise. As to more extensive investigations we must probably continue to hire a consultant, but it is still a great advantage in having one’s own knowledge of the models, so that you know what to order and can view the result.”

Some had in house analysts but many outsourced complex modelling to consultancies or higher state agencies. Others found outsourcing to be too limited and felt they needed to be able to work more closely and iteratively with the models. This diverse picture makes a national approach with standard software and methods impractical. Rather the report recommends a heirachical network of support for different categories of models.

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