A design for resilience

If youre going to be dumb smart you gotta be tough

At the Smart Cities conference Forum for the Future Chief Executive Peter Madden said that one of the risks of smart cities – massively networked cities in which services adapt and adjust to conditions as detected by ubiquitous sensors – is that we become more dependent on even more complex systems, which will increase the impact and likelihood of shocks.

So, he said, we have to design for resilience.

Look to the forests

At Tedx Youth @ Thames, Client Earth CEO James Thornton, said to look to natural systems to glean intelligence on responding to shock, and changing and adapting  while remaining within critical thresholds. One thing that emerges from studies of natural systems that are resilient is the need for 3 different scales. For example: branch, tree, forest.

The slowest moving of the scales sets the context and creates the determining factors. In a cultural analogy, the forest is the ideology, or the story of the times. For surfers the tides, set context for sets and waves (and drops).

I see fractals

In these examples, the relationship between the parts at one scale and the one above is fractal ( it looks the same at any scale). According to Steven Johnson, fractal systems are essential to creativity. The brain is made up of 100 billion neurons with “100 trillion distinct network connectors” and ideas are networks of activation.
The environment most conducive to creating new ideas is also a network at the next scale up: coffee houses where people exchange ideas – or “collide hunches” – and, another level up, the internet. These are networks which, mapped, look just like the brain.

Let’s say that designs for resilience require 3 scales that resemble eachother

So how does this play out for Smart Cities technology.

Ideas needed on improving this (and my understanding of tech).


2 thoughts on “A design for resilience

  1. Daniel Montes de Oca says:

    Very interesting article. It would be great to share a cup of coffe while discusing this against some systems simulation aproaches that would make it a little harder to fit resilient systems to the actual reality. Your article stimulated me to really think hard. Thanks!

    • Gustavo Montes de Oca ( @goldengus ) says:

      Would love to hear a bit more about the systems simulations – look forward to that cup of coffee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s