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U.S. Geological Survey
Bulletin 2212

Rim Sim: A Role-Play Simulation

By Robert C. Barrett, Suzanne L. Frew, David G. Howell, Herman A. Karl, and Emily B. Rudin


Logo of the Rim Sim simulation.


Rim Sim is a 6-hour, eight-party negotiation that focuses on creating a framework for the long-term disaster-recovery efforts. It involves a range of players from five countries affected by two natural disasters: a typhoon about a year ago and an earthquake about 6 months ago. The players are members of an International Disaster Working Group (IDWG) that has been created by an international commission. The IDWG has been charged with drawing up a framework for managing two issues: the reconstruction of regionally significant infrastructure and the design of a mechanism for allocating funding to each country for reconstruction of local infrastructure and ongoing humanitarian needs. The first issue will involve making choices among five options (two harbor options, two airport options, and one rail-line option), each of which will have three levels at which to rebuild. The second issue will involve five starting-point options. Participants are encouraged to invent other options for both issues.

The goal of Rim Sim is to raise questions about traditional approaches to disaster-preparedness planning and reconstruction efforts in an international setting, in this case the Pacific Rim. Players must confront the reverberating effects of disasters and the problems of using science and technical information in decision-making, and are introduced to a consensus-building approach emphasizing face-to-face dialog and multinational cooperation in dealing with humanitarian concerns, as well as long-term efforts to reconstruct local and regional infrastructure.

The Rim Sim simulation raises four key points: ripple effects of disasters, role of science, multiparty negotiation, and building personal relationships.

Download the Rim Sim bulletin as a 113-page PDF file (2.9 MB)

View a 7-minute mock newscast (in English) setting the stage for the Rim Sim game:

This English movie is also available with Spanish or Chinese subtitles

Access a free copy of QuickTime here.

Download the game materials in: | English | Spanish | Chinese |

Get Crowding the Rim book information.

For questions about the content of this report, contact Herman Karl

Download a free copy of the latest version of Adobe Reader.

This report is available only on the Web

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Please send comments and suggestions, or report problems, to: Michael Diggles
Created: September 25, 2003 (cad)
Updated: March 27, 2007 (bwr), March 4, 2009 (mfd)