Building Understanding and Confidence

The process of systems assessment is usually detailed, involving specialist input and scientific knowledge, but the outputs are always of wider interest. This might be to inform on the strategic options for restoring a contaminated site, advising a company’s management on the appropriateness of a project, or helping a regulator to review a proponent’s case. Therefore, identifying the key messages from an assessment is key.

As well as quantitative results (e.g. a measure of risk) the findings should also identify what aspects of the model are most important, and the overall uncertainty in its outputs. We routinely use techniques such as sensitivity analysis and Monte-Carlo methods to help understand models in this way. Quintessa has also developed methods for managing and understanding uncertainties using the Evidence Support Logic methodology (incorporated into our TESLA software).

Presenting the outcomes of an assessment effectively is also a key to building understanding and strengthening confidence in the decision-making processes. This can involve presenting model results alongside other lines of argument in a broader 'case'. Quintessa routinely does this, and has contributed to the central lines of argument in environmental safety cases for many radioactive waste disposal facilities, such as the Dounreay Shaft and the Canadian Deep Geologic Repository.