Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
In this paper, we present a versatile method for the investigation of interaction networks and show how to use it to assess effects of indirect interactions and feedback loops. The method allows to evaluate the impact of optimization measures or failures on the system. Here, we will apply it to the investigation of catastrophes, in particular to the temporal development of disasters (catastrophe dynamics). The mathematical methods are related to the master equation, which allows the application of the well-known solution methods. We will also indicate connections of disaster management with excitable media and supply networks. This facilitates to study the effects of measures taken by the emergency management or the local operation units. With a fictious, but more or less realistic example of a spreading epidemic disease or a wave of influenza, we illustrate how this method can, in principle, provide decision support to the emergency management during such a disaster.