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This page is intended for sharing your latest Intarese related thoughts and discussion topics that are already worth disseminating among interested people, but that might not be ripe enough to deserve their own pages yet. Feel free to write and process your thoughts here, no matter how unorganized they may be. Please edit the page so that the latest thoughts and discussions come on the top of the page.

New way of doing science (19.4.2007)

Participants: Jouni

A new way of doing science:

  • A problem is formulated on a page in the Internet (the system should be open but require registration for edits)
  • Problem is attached with "Partners needed" sign
  • Anyone can participate and produce data and upload them
  • When finished, the result will be published in an Open Access journal (that accepts material that has already been in the Internet)
  • This should be tested with an idea that otherwise does not have resources and stays undone.

Possible research topic for open scientific work: European-wide composite traffic

  • The whole European personal (not goods) traffic should be looked at based on the composite traffic idea: trip aggregation based on information about all (most) trips.
  • This would include air and rail traffic, ships, cars, buses, and even walking.
  • The scale of the examination should cover everything between 1 and 5000 km.
  • I would predict that there are very large synergisms waiting out there, if travel modes could be more effectively combined.

Properties of a good risk assessment 29.1.2007

  • participants: Jouni, based on previous discussions with Mikko, Juha, and others

On possible solutions

MOTTO: There is at least one solution to every problem, and that is the truth.

This means that because the world exists, there must be at least one coherent description of the world. It is the one that most precisely describes the true nature of the affairs. In other words, if a description is incoherent with the data, it is wrong.

This has implications on the distribution database idea. As we are planning to build a database of all variables used in all our risk assessments, there will be an increasing number of possible conflicts between the variables. This is an optimistic idea that however complicated the truth may be, there is at least one possible way to build the distribution database. The practical problem how to find that solution may, of course, be huge. On the other hand, even if the truth is not found, it is possible to do data mining within the distribution database and locate inconsistencies. When found, these would then need more scrutiny.

How to study risk assessment methods?

What are the properties of a good risk assessment? The answer will determine the method that should be used to reach that kind of assessments and end products.

A problem with risk assessment is that it is more like a practical work and application of existing knowledge. Can it even be a science? How risk assessment research should be performed so that it would utilise the scientific method? A suggestion:

  • Define a research need: A problem related to risk assessment.
  • The theoretical question is: Which method solves the problem?
  • Define a research hypothesis: An answer that might solve the problem.
  • The empirical reseach on the hypothesis answers this question: Does the method work out in practice?
→ This approach is an alternative to the demand that there should be quantitative measures for the goodness of methods. In this alternative, the methods would then be compared with each other based on their quantitative goodness. This is a problematic approach, because if the measure is not good, the answer is useless. In our suggestion we leave open the question about which method is the best. Our research is about "does this work?", and the practical question "will someone use it?" will be left to the market. We assume that there is a market of risk assessments, where decision-makers and other endusers have a demand and the risk assessors have a supply.

Some possible research ideas, when the golden criteria for a risk assessment is that it brings useful information for decision-making.

  • Problem: The contents of a risk assessment must be acceptable to the endusers. Hypothetical solution:
    • Include enduser in the process, and collect views into the assessment.
    • Alternative: Try to anticipate the needs without consulting the endusers.
  • Problem: The measure of the risk of interest can take several forms. How to select among the possible ways to describe the risk?
    • Take the endusers' predefined view as such as the basis for the assessment. E.g. if the enduser says 10-6 risk is the decision criteria, focus on estimating the exposure that causes that risk.
    • Alternative: describe the risk as such, without predefined decision criteria. This alternative would require the best (or, at least good enough) scientific estimate of the risk as a whole (e.g., in the given exposure situation).
  • Problem: Different opinions about values and scoping emerge among the endusers. How to weight the opinions?
    • If an opinion was raised, it will be given a certain weight independent on who raised the point.
    • Alternative: Opinions will be given weight based on both the content and on who raised the point.

The contents of the thoughts and discussions until 11.1. have already mainly been either outdated, developed further or merged with contents of other pages and have thus been archived. You can find the old texts | here.