OCOPOMO Policy Development Process

With its integrated and ICT-supported method for collaborative policy development, OCOPOMO contributes to more trustworthiness and active participation of stakeholders in the policy development process. The following figure illustrates the integrated approach. The smiley icons indicate, which actors are involved in each of the six steps. The size of each smiley indicates, how intensely an actor is meant to be involved.


Policy formulation through scenario generation (encompassing phases 1 and 2): Scenario generation is a key element in the OCOPOMO approach. Starting point is either an existing policy or a new policy needed. A policy can be brought in either by a government agency (i.e. domain expert) or even by an interest group (i.e. a particular stakeholder group). Based on this policy, an initial scenario is generated in phase 1. Then, stakeholders generate further scenarios of different kinds in phase 2.

Scenario analysis and conceptual modelling (phase 3): To trace the transformation of information from narrative text scenarios to formal policy and simulation models, the OCOPOMO process foresees the use of consistent conceptual descriptions (CCD) to inform the formal policy models. The models in the CCD are used to transform unstructured information from scenarios and background documents into structured representations. They help to create the subsequent simulation model.

Formal policy model generation (phase 4): Based on the CCD model, policy modelling experts derive the agent-based formal policy model, on which the simulation runs. In OCOPOMO, declarative multi-agent modelling is used. Hence, formal policy models have to cover actor descriptions, their social relationships, individual behaviour, beliefs and actions as well as rules and conditional dependencies among actions of actors. The CCD is of particular importance for the development of the formal policy model, as it presents relevant information in regards to interdependencies of actors. The policy models accommodate in sum the relationships between the individual actions on the micro-level and the collective effects on the macro level to help understand interrelation and interdependencies and thereby making the system manageable.

 Simulation and visualization (phase 5): Formal policy models are the starting point for running simulations of the policy case. In this step, experts of policy modelling instantiate simulation models with particular variables and run the simulations. The results received from such simulations are visualised in a text format (i.e. a model-based scenario) and supportive charts. Visualisation is needed to demonstrate how a strongly connected operation works, and which results are generated and derivable from current scenario descriptions. Visualisation is essential to provide simulation results to users and analysts as well as to receive feedback and support interaction with those stakeholders.

 Evaluation and validation (phase 6): Phase 6 of the overall policy development process serves to expose the model-based scenarios (i.e. the simulation results) to different actor groups (domain experts and stakeholders). The purpose is that the actor groups assess, evaluate and validate the results of the simulation and therewith compare them with the evidence-based scenarios they have generated. Through this evaluation steps, stakeholders can reflect their positions expressed in scenarios. They may enrich their scenarios (feeding information into phase 2 above) or may also better understand opposite positions of other stakeholders and negotiate the result of common agreement. A key benefit of social simulation is that aspects most probably not evident to the stakeholders through textual descriptions become visible.

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