Director of Immigration Control,
Raytheon Homeland Security
Government entities with civil security missions operate in an increasingly complex world. They require tools to help them understand their current environment, plan for the future, and collaborate with partners. One tool that has the potential to answer each of these challenges is modeling and simulation.
Modeling and simulation computer programs provide users with a visual representation of an environment, process or event, and allow users to simulate change. Almost anything can be modeled. For example, Raytheon is offering EU and Member State officials access to a model called Future Border that studies irregular migration to Europe. Choosing from a variety of maps and charts, users can input data to examine how combined policy and operational choices might lower irregular migration; better understand the push and pull factors that influence immigrants; examine the smuggling market; and evaluate how targeted aid could improve the quality of life in the sending regions. Future Border can simulate the effects of European actions over a period of 10 years.
The best type of planning model is visually engaging, and easy to navigate. To generate trust in the fidelity of the model, assumptions about the environment will be visible to the user, and most will be changeable. The model will allow us to see and evaluate causal connections, and examine the intended and unintended effects that policy or operational actions might have. The model should be easy to access, and should perform computations rapidly. Users should be able to save their results and share with others, and to add reference materials to assist in validating results.
Modeling and simulation tools are especially effective in helping agencies plan for the future. They can be used to determine how an agency will carry out a new legislative mandate or high-consequence initiative, aid in the identification of capability gaps to drive more efficient acquisitions strategies, and justify budget requests. Agencies facing significant change will often task working groups to solve problems, but the paper products that result can be too voluminous for a management team to meaningfully assimilate. A model can incorporate such information and function as a faster and more comprehensive means of gaining situational awareness; measuring the effects of change; engaging in an analysis of alternatives; and understanding the implications of trade-offs. Because the model effectively functions as a library of the agency’s best thought in resolving problems, it can be used as a reference to explain past actions, and rationalize continuity in the event of leadership or management changes.
Modeling and simulation is perhaps most interesting when it is used to evaluate risk. Like no other tool, a model can economically blend assumptions and variables, allowing agencies to game numerous scenarios and develop strategies for an uncertain future. Models will often surprise us by highlighting imperceptible risks or predicting unexpected results.
The process of designing a model can foster important collaboration within an agency. Model-makers will consult with both headquarters and field personnel, and the viewpoints of both can be accounted for in the final product. Such collaboration along the vertical axis of the organization is essential, as is the ability to assimilate views along the horizontal axis from partner agencies, academics, and stakeholders outside of government.