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Thursday, July 21 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Anticipation and Systems Thinking: A Key to Resilient Systems

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Disasters often endanger the foundations of our society. Due to many factors (larger popula- tion, more dependency on more complex technology, more and greater interference in natural systems and the environment, dramatic changes in the environment, ...) the number and the severity of disasters seem to grow, additionally exaggerated by the media coverage.The ultimate aim in the case of disaster is to save as many lives as possible and also safeguard the survival of the society in total and to protect as much of the societal structure, infrastructure and environment as possible. This requires the social system to show an amount of resistance and stability with respect to an incident that can cause endangering disasters.An incident of this kind can be attributed to the interaction of three overall factors: an external or internal hazard, a vulnerability of the system and an insufficient reactive capacity of the system to shield or resist the incident.With respect to the system’s capacity two countermeasures are essential to overcome an incident of that kind: * Anticipation of the incident and as a consequence the provision of adequate preparation and * Systemic Thinking in order to understand the relationship of and cybernetic loops within the components of the affected system and the incident.Anticipation and as a consequence a timely preparation of responses to future disasters will help to avoid the worst possible consequences and improve the chances for survival. Additionally we need a better understanding of the complex relationships causing the hazard and the long-term effects of our interventions on nature, human society, and environment: Systems Thinking.In this paper we analyze the key factors potentially leading to a system disturbance: Hazard, vulnerability of the affected system and capacity of the affected system. We classify these disturbances (incident, emergency, crisis, disaster, and catastrophe) and analyze the different reactions a system can show (fragile, fault tolerant, elastic, resilient, robust, antifragile). By discussing the phases of disaster management we can identify the information required for effective Anticipation and for the identification of critical systemic relationships. Finally we analyze the phases of Disaster Management, emphasizing the need for and the application of Anticipation. We identify the source of information needed for a successful anticipatory view. As a conclusion we identify systemic problems encountered during disaster management, especially in view of anticipatory actions.

avatar for Gerhard Chroust

Gerhard Chroust

Prof. Emeritus, Systems Engineering, Johannes Kepler Univ. Linz
Gerhard Chroust is an Austrian systems scientist, and Professor Emeritus for Systems Engineering and Automationat the Institute of System Sciences at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria. Chroust is an authority in the fields of formal programming languages and interdisciplinary... Read More →

Thursday July 21, 2016 2:00pm - 2:30pm MDT