Event Details

PHO Rounds: Gaming and Pandemics: Agile analysis in a time of crisis

In early November 2020, Canada’s Vaccine Rollout Task Force (VRTF) directed that COVID-19 vaccination planning be supported by a “wargame” to identify potential challenges and contingencies. Within weeks, a series of red team sessions were conducted, followed by a full-day national tabletop exercise (TTX) involving more than 150 participants from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, six other federal government departments and agencies, all ten Canadian provinces and three territories, and the Canadian Red Cross. The findings were briefed all the way to the federal cabinet.

While the accelerated design and implementation of the TTX, red teaming, and associated risk assessment was facilitated by platforms that enabled remote collaboration, the institutional agility required was rooted in prior professional networks, patterns of collaboration, and a willingness to work across hierarchies and organizations. This presentation shows how the flexible and dynamic application of red-teaming and gaming techniques can deliver impactful results.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the use of analytical gaming in public health settings and the value and limits of red teaming.
  • Recognize the role of existing networks, patterns of collaboration and willingness to collaborate in influencing the success of an agile analysis.
  • Identify resources and networks that can support such activities in the participant’s own public health practice.

Presenter(s): Dr. Ben Taylor and Dr. Rex Brynen

Dr. Ben Taylor is a Senior Operations Research Analyst at Defence Research and Development Canada. He has worked as an analyst in both Canadian and British governments supporting longer term planning of national military forces and has taken part in many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Five-Eyes studies. In recent years he has led efforts to introduce “wargames” into force development work in Canada. During 2020-21 he developed games to explore policy making by governments facing pandemics. Dr. Taylor has a BSc in Combined Studies and a PhD in Chemistry, both from the University of Leicester in the UK, and is accredited as a Fellow of the Operations Research Society.

Dr. Rex Brynen is Professor of Political Science at McGill University. In addition to his other areas of research (Middle East politics, security and development, peace and humanitarian operations), he teaches and writes about serious games and is senior editor of the conflict simulation website PAXsims. He was part of the team that developed the Outbreak READY! infectious disease simulation and currently serves as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Outbreak And Response Network (GOARN) working group on gamification.


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


Public Health Ontario Rounds are a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). In order to receive written documentation for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, please check “Yes” beside the question “Do you require CME credits?” on the registration form.

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Affiliate Members may count RCPSC credits toward their Mainpro+ credit requirements. All other CFPC members may claim up to 50 Certified credits per cycle for participation in RCPSC MOC Section 1 accredited activities.

PHO Rounds are also approved by the Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI).

For more information or for a record of registration for other Continuing Education purposes, please contact capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.


Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.

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Published 24 May 2022