Calculating and communicating uncertainty and risk to allow informed decision making

Clear communication of uncertainty is crucial for effective risk management, but is difficult to achieve in practice. This is compounded when the application area is complex and accurate calculation of uncertainty is both challenging and time consuming.
Uncertainty communication must be clear to experts and non-experts alike and must account for a lack of understanding of the definitions of both "risk" and "uncertainty". This talk will examine the underpinning principals of how risk and uncertainty is understood and communicated, using examples of the wide variety of defence applications that require an understanding of uncertainty and outlining the reason that uncertainty calculation and communication is crucial to decision making.
The talk will then provide an illustrative scenario examining the theoretical release and spread of a disease within a city, demonstrating both the challenges faced in such a complex scenario and sharing current best practice when communicating with decision makers.

Dr Veronica Bowman is a principal statistician at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). She specialises in uncertainty calculation and communication and Bayesian inference. She has spent many years applying Bayesian methodology and data fusion techniques to problems in the military domain as well as working with academia to improve understanding of how uncertainty is propagated and how decisions should be taken under uncertainty.

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