Complex systems simulations for intervention development: Human trafficking and conflict-related violence

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Institute for Global Health

Abstract

Overview & Aim.
This project will develop interdisciplinary research methods at the intersection of complex systems, violence, public health interventions, and data visualisation. We aim to evaluate the use of dynamic complex systems modeling to develop interventions for hard-to-reach populations affected by human trafficking and conflict-related violence. The project will address the following questions: What contributions can these novel methods make to the global response to human trafficking and conficlt-related violence? How can evidence-based, accessible and visually powerful complex systems models inform decision-makers working on interventions?

Project Justification.
Crises, population mobility, violence and exploitation cause deleterious health consequences for millions of individuals, particularly for refugees, low-wage migrant workers and victims of human trafficking [4, 8-10]. Currently, there is limited evidence on effective interventions for these marginalised groups. Scholars emphasise the causal complexity of violence and exploitation, however, most analytical approaches have erroneously assumed linear, average effects of exposures on single outcomes. Experimental approaches to test interventions are often unethical or unfeasible to implement among these hard-to-reach populations. Reductionist research methods, such as traditional epidemiological studies, dangerously oversimplify complex problems, which frequently results in wasted resources and potential harm to already vulnerable groups.

Methods.
We will invite experts in complexity science, violence research, public health and data visualisation to join the Complexity & Violence Research Network. This Network will jointly design a complex intervention case study that will serve as an evaluated 'proof of concept' for these methods. In brief, our methods will include the following steps:

1. Literature reviews on: 1) complex systems modelling for intervention development, 2) visualising complex systems, and 3) theoretical and epistemological underpinnings of complex systems methods.
2. Joint selection and design of an intervention case study using the Network's existent research on violence and other historical data, empirical data, and theory.
3. Calibrate, visualise and iterate a complex intervention model with dynamic multi-level interactions of exposures, associated harms, and simulated counterfactuals (e.g. intervention).
4. Collaboratively validate the model and evaluate the usefulness, feasibility and ethics of using complex systems methods for intervention development. Evaluation will include Network and Stakeholder reflections and critiques during small in-person meetings and a virtual two-wave Delphi Panel of funders and intervention developers to assess overall methods and usefulness.
At every phase, we will critically examine and document the methodological and epistemological contributions, short-comings and risks, and best practice for adopting these methods in interdisciplinary research groups.

Outputs.
To contribute to our future work and advancements in the field, we will produce:

-Academic papers on: 1) the case study findings; and 2) methodological recommendations
-Lay guidance on the opportunities and limitations of these methods, with the aim of supporting intervention development, evaluation and policy decisions targeting populations affected by violence, conflict and human trafficking.
-A web browser accessible version of the final case study model and visualisations to allow a wide user-audience to engage and play with the model inputs to understand how incorporating dynamic and complex characteristics of a system can explain causal mechanisms and potential effects of interventions.
-Articulate future research priorities and identify funding opportunities to pursue longer-term sustainability of the Network and the development of future proposals.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Project website with interactive network visualisation 
Description Our project's Research Fellow in Complex Systems Modelling and Information Design built an interactive network visualisation that displays the members of our growing Violence and Migration Modelling Network, where they work, and how their connections to each other. The aim of this output is to provide an engaging and informative tool for understanding the interdisciplinary and institutional breadth of the network collaboration. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact This forward facing and easily accessible website and network visualisation has allowed us to more easily share about the network with new audiences and increased network reach and membership. 
URL https://feature-creature.github.io/violence-and-migration-modelling-network/network.html
 
Description Drafted pilot 'Agent Based Modelling for Public Health' lecture and seminar activity
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Post Doctoral Enrichment Award
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation Alan Turing Institute 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation Alan Turing Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation Coventry University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation Durham University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation Johns Hopkins University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation King's College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Department Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation University College London
Department Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Health Informatics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation University of Warwick
Department Department of Statistics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Violence and Migration Modelling Network 
Organisation University of the Arts London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has led the formation of the multidisciplinary and cross-institutional Violence and Migration Modelling (VaMM) network. We identified and invited the relevant experts to join and launched the network in a virtual VaMM network meeting in October 2021. Since then, our team has initiated one-on-one and small group discussions with VaMM network members to discuss the purpose and aim of the network, as well as future areas for collaborative methodological development. We have also circulated a network survey to gauge interest in future workshops and seminars that we are now planning delivery for based on network members' replies.
Collaborator Contribution The VaMM Network partners have engaged in the network formation, the first VaMM Network meeting, and the network survey. Many of the members have expressed interest in collaborative methodological development and discussions in the short term and pursuing joint projects and grant applications in the long term.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary network including academics with expertise across public health (with specific expertise on migration, violence, exploitation, and conflict-based violence), crime science, conflict studies, psychology, mathematics, Bayesian statistics, computer science, data visualisation, and user-centred design.
Start Year 2021
 
Title Interactive Simulation Interface: MyTh MaP-IN model 
Description The Interactive Simulation Interface is a browser-friendly version of the simulation that can be easily run, viewed, and altered (by set parameters) on any computer from the browser. We are attempting to make our project simulations easily accessible to a wide-range of stakeholder groups without the need for additional software downloads or any computational proficiencies so that these steps do not become barriers for model viewing, comprehension, and participatory involvement in modelling stages (e.g., model verification and validation). 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact This interactive simulation has been shared at all our recent engagement activities both internal and external to UCL. It has served as a helpful example for the methodological innovation we are pursuing and we have had other academic colleagues reach out to ask how we made this form of computational modelling browser-accessible. 
URL https://www.alysmcalpine.com/research/mythmapin/
 
Description Seminar for LSHTM Doctoral students on complex systems methods for violence research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Six doctoral students and two of their respective supervisors attended a talk where Dr Kiss and Dr McAlpine presented on the use of complexity science methods and complex systems thinking for violence research, including an overview of the ESRC-funded VaMM network and project. The students were highly engaged and asked questions about the potential application of these innovative methods for their own work. Three of the students have since joined the VaMM network and one student has been engaging with the VaMM research team on the use of Bayesian Networks (BN) in her thesis which has led to discussions about co-authoring a scoping review on the use of BN methods for violence research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description UCL Centre for the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents 'learning circle' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Approximately 25 HWCA members attended our presentation on our ESRC-funded 'VaMM project' (Complex systems simulations for intervention development: Human trafficking and conflict-related violence). This talk included 30 minutes of highly engaged discussion on topics such as, the comparison of simulation method capabilities compared to more conventionally applied social epidemiological methods as well as the use of qualitative insights to calibrate these models. Two attendees have since joined the VaMM Network, one of whom is using the same method as out project (agent-based modelling) for health research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/global-health/igh-centre-list/centre-hwca