Improving accuracy and intelligibility of decisions
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- Mengersen, K. & Whittle, P. J. Verbr. Lebensm. (2011) 6: 15. doi:10.1007/s00003-011-0694-3
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Intelligible and accurate risk-based decision-making requires a complex balance of information from different sources, appropriate statistical analysis of this information and consequent intelligent inference and decisions made on the basis of these analyses. Importantly, this requires an explicit acknowledgement of uncertainty in the inputs and outputs of the statistical model. The aim of this paper is to progress a discussion of these issues in the context of several motivating problems related to the wider scope of agricultural production. These problems include biosecurity surveillance design, pest incursion, environmental monitoring and import risk assessment. The information to be integrated includes observational and experimental data, remotely sensed data and expert information. We describe our efforts in addressing these problems using Bayesian models and Bayesian networks. These approaches provide a coherent and transparent framework for modelling complex systems, combining the different information sources, and allowing for uncertainty in inputs and outputs. While the theory underlying Bayesian modelling has a long and well established history, its application is only now becoming more possible for complex problems, due to increased availability of methodological and computational tools. Of course, there are still hurdles and constraints, which we also address through sharing our endeavours and experiences.