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Principle Investigator: Professor Mark Burgman
Department / Centre: Centre for Environmental Policy
Collaborators: University of Melbourne (project lead)
Funding Agency: Intelligence Advanced Projects Agency (IARPA), U.S.A.
Project website:

Project summary:

The SWARM Project is attempting to achieve fundamental advances in collaborative reasoning. The project is led by Professor Mark Burgman, Director of the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial, although the project is run out of the University of Melbourne, Australia.

With major funding from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the international, multidisciplinary team is studying collaborative reasoning, in particular as it relates to improving intelligence analysis.  As part of this project a new platform for online collaborative reasoning has also been developed and demonstrated.

The funding for SWARM was from the IARPA CREATE program (Crowdsourcing Evidence, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation.) The program focused on determining whether crowds of people working together in a structured way can deliver superior reasoning and superior communication of their findings (superior to people acting alone and superior to people working together using existing tools such as Google docs).

The aim is that tools and methods developed under CREATE can eventually be deployed to teams of analysts working in the intelligence community, helping them deliver intelligence products superior in quality to those generated using existing methods.

Project update:

In Spring 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, the platform developed under the SWARM project was employed to assist in charting a Roadmap to Recovery in Australia.

As part of this work, a group of over one hundred experts were convened, comprising some of Australia’s leading epidemiologists, infectious disease consultants, public health specialists, healthcare professionals, mental health and well-being practitioners, indigenous scholars, communications and behaviour change experts, ethicists, philosophers, political scientists, economists and business scholars from the Group of Eight (Go8) universities.

Using the the SWARM collaboration platform the group developed the Roadmap in less than three weeks, in the context of a rapidly changing pandemic. The result is a comprehensive, independent, evidence-based report for the Australian Government that provides guidance as to how and when Australia can move to the recovery phase.