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Posted on 20 September, 2018 by

Categories: Knowledge, News,

“Resilience is the property of communities, not structures”

That’s a quote from one of the papers in the latest issue of Environment Systems and Decisions, which just published updated versions of a set of research papers the Resilience Shift commissioned in 2017 as part of an initial agenda setting exercise, to get ideas for how to design, deliver and operate for resilience.

What I love about the quote is that it’s from a 1981 monograph by Peter Timmerman commissioned by the Canadian government to help understand how to think about vulnerability, adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change. Thirty-seven years later and most societies are still struggling to understand this idea and to operationalize it.

It is also a nice succinct way of describing the remit of the Resilience Shift, with its focus on resilience engineering – i.e. on the professional practices that can ensure engineered structures and infrastructure will be planned, designed, delivered, regulated and operated to serve the communities (provide, protect, and/or connect) under ordinary and extraordinary circumstances.

Here’s the heart of the conundrum: although engineering isn’t the only domain that contributes to the resilience or lack thereof of critical infrastructure, society does call on and rely on engineering for creating and managing resilience, as the paper in this issue by Pearson et al. reminds us. But traditionally, engineers aren’t trained for, expected to, or paid to deliver community – from where resilience emerges and where lack of resilience is felt.

In “Engineering Meets Institutions”, Naderpajoul et al. who found that wonderful quote from Timmerman, look at the challenge and the complexity of managing for resilience. Recognizing that although engineering is a principal domain associated with critical infrastructure, managing critical infrastructure successfully for resilience requires an interdisciplinary approach.

The articles in this issue collectively help make resilience more practical, tangible, and relevant to researchers and practitioners alike. They gamely contribute to a nascent understanding of what “resilience engineering” is, even though much controversy remains over definitions of resilience, more generally.

Please see here for the open access introduction to the special issue –
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10669-018-9706-5.

The whole issue is here – https://link.springer.com/journal/10669/38/3/page/1 – but, unfortunately, most of the papers are behind a paywall.

And the complete set of original white papers are available on the Resilience Shift website – http://resilienceshift.org/publications/.

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