Delft researchers investigate citizens’ responsibility in crises

As the world moves from Covid-19 outbreak control to impact control, missed opportunities unfold. TU Delft is developing tools that should help prepare us for future crises.

Talking about citizens’ responsibility. People keep your distance. (Photo: Josh Duke / Unsplash)

Researchers at the Communication Design for Innovation (CDI, part of the Faculty of Applied Sciences) group started a project with Erasmus Medical Centre that should help politicians and other leaders make better decisions at the onset of future virus outbreaks.

Dr Maarten van der Sanden (AS faculty), the lead of the project, explains how: “We are working with PhDs, master and bachelor students of the two universities to develop future collaborative decision-making strategies and supportive tools for communities of scientists, engineers, medical doctors, policy makers, industry and citizens that combine outbreak and impact control at the very onset of future outbreaks,” he says. “Hopefully, future decisions, made under high uncertainty at the early stages of an outbreak, will already contain the seeds for robust adaptive impact management later on.”

What does citizens’ responsibility mean?

To embed adaptive impact management at an early stage, it is important that questions about the role of citizens are discussed and implemented, says Van der Sanden. “Questions such as, what does citizens’ responsibility mean and how can this insight reinforce any responsibility called upon at a later stage to take certain actions such as ‘avoid crowds’? Or, what personal freedom do citizens need during the onset to cope, to give meaning to certain covid-19 regulations in order to sustain their personal mitigation behaviour later on.”

“We use the analogy of the human immune system. If you look at the DNA level’ of such an integrated approach, what you want is a piece of DNA for outbreak management and a piece of DNA for impact management at the start of the crisis. This would help experts, politicians and citizens prepare for what is to come, learn to work together step by step, and be ready for an impact phase in which the goals are less clear.”

  • This project is just one of six open source projects, which are open for BSc students, MSc students, PhD candidates and postdocs:
  • Reproduce, validate and develop models for disease spread and monitoring disease spread.
  • Validate or develop models for immunity development.
  • Mathematical modelling of strategic behaviour (game theory)
  • Literature research on how approaches to influenza are applicable to coronaviruses.
  • Inventory the sort of tests, vaccines and treatments available for coronaviruses.

Redacteur Tomas van Dijk

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