By Carole Adam
The SWIFT project (funded by University Grenoble-Alps) investigates the somewhat irrational behaviour of citizens confronted with wildfire risk in Victoria. It relies on survey data from the Bushfire Research Commission created after the Black Saturday fires in 2009, to design a realistic model of this behaviour. An initial model focused on the mismatch between objective and subjective values of both the level of risk and the individual ability to face it; it proved valid against behaviour statistics, and also showed good explicative power despite its apparent simplicity, at the level of the global population. This model was also used to investigate the effects of different communication strategies.
A more complex model was then designed with BDI agents, whose reasoning is in terms of beliefs, desires and intentions. The main advantage of this model is to offer explanations of behaviour at the right level of abstraction, using terms from folk psychology. Further work is ongoing to enrich this model with emotions and cognitive biases, to explain some irrational behaviours at the level of single individuals.
Future prospects are to then turn this model into a serious game, offering the possibility to play the role of different actors, in order to better understand the different points of views. This would be useful in reducing the gap between actors with different goals, and the subsequent miscommunication that often happens between population and authorities. A similar approach of serious gaming to raise awareness can be used for various situations, and future collaborations are envisaged with people at SMART on that topic.