Systems Framework for Analysis of Policy and Strategy Update

Written by

December 10, 2015

A conceptual diagram of traditional deterministic policy process and the policy process using Systems Frameworks with Big Data AnalysisSystems Framework for analysis of policy and strategy

Peter J Coombes and Michael E Barry

Acknowledged by Engineers Australia as one of the best scientific contributions to hydrology and water resources during 2014/15.

The Systems Framework is discussed in many publications focused on describing projects or policies. This presentation provides an overview of the Systems Framework methodologies for analysis of policy, strategy and design developed over the last decade. The framework integrates water cycle, environmental and economic processes from the “bottom up” using all available data and integrating spatial and temporal scales of behaviour. Advances in computing power allowed this quantum process to be underpinned by continuous simulation of local behaviours and Monte Carlo methods. This expansionist approach to analysis reveals hidden challenges and opportunities for urban areas. The Systems Framework can be reliably and robustly applied to detailed and targeted ‘what if’ analyses, including assessments of future water security and economics under a range of climatic and population growth scenarios, and future alternative strategies or policies. The spatial and temporal detail within the Systems Framework allowed understanding, reproduction and testing of the complex interactions between waterways, reservoirs, operations, water demands, water restrictions, energy demands and financial impacts. This methodology includes hind casting of the water cycle and linked economic simulations across historical periods with known financial and resources information. The authors are developing open source and web-enabled applications that will allow greater interaction with the System Framework. This initiative is supported by a number of new science publications.

Paper   Presentation


Dr Peter Coombes

Dr Coombes has spent more than 30 years dedicated to the development of systems understanding of the urban, rural and natural water cycles with a view to finding optimum solutions for the sustainable use of ecosystem services, provision of infrastructure and urban planning.

Connect with Peter

Related Articles

Rainwater harvesting and systems thinking for a better world – release of YouTube Channel

Rainwater harvesting and systems thinking for a better world – release of YouTube Channel

The Essential Rainwater Harvesting Course was created by Peter Coombes of Urban Water Cycle Solutions ( and Michelle Avis of Verge Permaculture ( First recorded in 2020, a large majority of the course is now being released, for free, on YouTube as part of our shared mission to educate and spread information on rainwater harvesting as widely as possible.

Urban Flood Risks, Water Law and Insurance

Urban Flood Risks, Water Law and Insurance

Urban flood risks, water law and insurance: The intersection of emerging science, practice and authority  By Professor Peter J Coombes Published in Precedent issue 178 - September/October 2023, Journal of the Australian Lawyers Alliance This article discusses the...