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About the US Resilience System
What is the "Resilience System"?
The USRS is a U.S. society-wide initiative with the goal of improving the health, well-being, and prosperity of American citizens and their communities by fostering a resilient response to change. Based upon an open data / open source platform that enables collaboration at all levels of society, over great distances, the USRS utilizes a multi-sector approach enabling citizens, communities, NGOs, business and government to collaborate in identifying risks, preparing for unexpected events, reducing vulnerability, and responding to change events with a collective effort to improve circumstances. The USRS focus is on creative options to adapt to adversity (also called "adaptive capacity building"), information sharing environments, networking, and collective action. The USRS, and its nested sub-systems provide a flexible, hyperlocal response to create and maintain prosperous economic and social systems embedded in healthy socio-ecological systems, upon whose services we depend upon for our health, wealth, and security.
Why is the US Resilience System Important?
Complex Adaptive System
American society, -- under the conditions of the 21st Century -- is subject to massive and costly systems challenges and discontinuities in our housing, health care, security, energy, natural resource, financial and economic systems. The U.S. Resilience System is designed as an arena for collaboration and integrative management and governance, allowing for learning and flexibility to build adaptive capacity through all levels of society. Resilience Networks access local situational awareness and management of localized social-ecological systems, while working hand in hand with all levels of government, the private sector, and the social sector based upon the community’s need for capacity building. Weaving local and national business in with an awareness that humans and nature are entwined, both human-built environments and natural systems provide essential components for stimulating adaptation and appropriate development that enhances resilience.
Enables Agile and Adaptable Response
We live in a world of constantly changing socio-ecological systems. Rather than attempting to deny or control change, the U.S. Resilience System applies a breakthrough in integrative management and governance systems. “Agility, Focus and Convergence (FAC)” teams (sometimes called "smart swarms" are used to supplement, and eventually replace, many hierarchical, control systems with more efficient complex adaptive systems, which are self-synchronizing to emerging conditions. These non-hierarchical, non-controlled systems operate with the qualities of distributed collective learning, evidence-based decision-making and agile response, similar to market economies and the internet, rather than 20th Century Soviet-style centralized economies or traditional American command and control systems. Although our nation has benefited significantly from non-hierarchical, non-controlled systems, (such as free markets and the internet) the advances in systems science have yet to be fully applied to the U.S. health sector, security sector, energy sector, and disaster management communities. Resilience System are bridging this gap.
Reducing Vulnerability With Finite National Resources
The localized Resilience Networks build upon the inherent resources, skill sets, and capacities in a community, to minimize the need for dependency aid from external resources. Currently, the predominant U.S. response and disaster management systems operate through costly hierarchical control systems. The limitations of these systems to quickly, economically, and efficiently respond to the wide variety of localized needs, has been revealed by the complexity and extent of large-scale disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, Haiti-like earthquakes, and the response during the Gulf Oil Spill. Despite the reality of budget constraints, after-action reports call for increased resources, and appeals to remember and honor our commitment to the people and future of an area. However, over and over, it is also revealed that disasters bring communities together like never before... often with little pre-planning or disaster response understanding available. Through the Resilience System components, communities, neighborhoods. families, and individuals are able to collaborate and share information to identify and actively participate in risk reduction, disaster response, relief and resilient capacity building to meet the long-term problems in a region.
Components of the U.S. Resilience System
1) Resilience Networks (RN)
Resilience Networks provide a collaboration platform and information environment for all levels of local and regional society. The RN networking approach enables citizens, community-based organizations, NGOs, small business, and government to work in partnership towards a resilient response to the impact and process of change. Identification of resources and adaptive capacities of individuals, neighborhoods, communities and regions are recognized, and built upon. Resilience Networks enable healthy communities capable of responding to adversity by actively preparing for change events, such as economic, social, and environmental changes. This includes changes brought up by natural disaster events. In times of aggressive, sometimes unanticipated change, a resilient community will need to draw upon all resources that contribute to its' health and well-being. The Resilience Network enhances the social capital of a community through encouraging informed and active networks focused upon evidence-based communications, idea sharing, and access to a wide scope of resources before, during and after a crisis. These networks embrace the dynamic aspects of socio-ecological dependencies, while looking for innovative and appropriate solutions for a resilient response to challenges and change at the local level. The Resilience Networks dynamically enhance the level of community capacity to respond to and recover from a disaster through multiple pathways, including:
Localized Resilience Networks actively engaging individuals in risk / resilience assessment and asset mapping - from the house-hold level, to the neighborhood level, and out to the greater community and society to develop community resilience plans with an evidence-based understanding of the local and regional ecosystem services. From the identified risks and assets, individuals, neighborhoods, community groups, and whole communities are brought together with business, and government to actively build upon the tools of local area resilience. These may include the Resilience System and Resilience Networks platforms, geo-spatial visualizations of local concerns, scenarios with direct application to the region, mobile social networking technology, as well as recognition of the power of face-to-face community meetings, active work parties and social events, coordinated through health capacity zone collaborating centers.
Within a Resilience Network, its management and governance build and support resilience by nurturing and/or conserving the many elements that are necessary to adapt to new, unexpected and transformative situations. Through this type adaptation prosperous and responsive development can be created and maintained within the complexity of social and economic systems dependent upon the ecosystem services of local, regional, national and global socio-biotic systems.
2) Trust Networks
Trust Networks are intelligent social networks of individuals and groups with conflict resolution skills, tools, methodologies, cross-cultural knowledge and other characteristics that make them uniquely prepared to identify the underlying precursors and emerging indicators of social crises, conflict and violence. Trust Networks are used to anticipate and dissipate trends leading to conflict.
3) FAC Teams
Focus Agility and Convergence (FAC) Teams are rapidly-enabled teams comprised of pre-vetted individuals with expertise, who collectively act through Hastily Formed Networks to meet the immediate health, communications, infrastructure, ecosystem, and humanitarian needs of an area in crisis. Members of FAC Teams may already be working or living in the impacted area. FAC team members collaborate and contribute from far or near through web 3.0 intelligent social networks. Typically they will respond quickly in alignment with, but before large organized metropolitan, state, or federal response organizations are able to organize themselves to effectively respond in the early stages of a disaster. They identify and empower local smart swarms that have more persistence within communities.
Adaptive Logistics And Distributed Intelligent Networks (ALADIN) are a new generation of environmentally-friendly, flexible logistics and distribution systems (like those associated with Occupy to Transform or STAR-TIDES, originating from advancements in the DoD) to address non-commercial demand for health- and life-sustaining products, shelters and services in distressed populations, generally in response to large-scale disasters (such as Superstorm Sandy). Where formal hierarchical supply chains bog down or fail to rapidly meet essential requirements, ALADINs can often provide life-critical and health-essential solutions. ALADINs are often crucial to maintaining the basics of survival for impacted populations, sometimes with hundreds of thousands of people depending upon them to address basic needs in a disaster area. ALADINs are designed to function with agility, speed and financial transparency.
Resilience Approach - Resilience Systems identify and build upon the inherent resources and adaptive capacities of a community or region - rather than depending upon broad and sweeping, external interventions - to overcome challenges and problems and adaptively respond to change. They have the capacity to transform communities, when it is not possible to return to the pre-existing state. Fundamental to the Resilience System and Resilience Networks is the understanding that socio-ecological systems are interdependent and constantly changing. Usually we respond to gradual change smoothly. However, sometimes there are drastic and abrupt shifts that are expensive, or impossible, to reverse. For the most resilient response to catastrophic change, an impacted area will rely on components established for response and relief prior to the change event. In other words, social systems and ecosystems impacted by change must be able to cope, adapt or reorganize for a resilient response.
Useful tools for building resilience in socio-ecological systems are: risk and threat indicators at the local level, health capacity zone assessments, and participation in structured scenarios to envision possible alternative futures and solutions to challenges presented. The work of building and sustaining resilience in our nation, must involve the building blocks of our nation: citizens, family and neighborhoods. Business, the social sector, and government must engage with citizens at the most granular level, with flexible, innovative and open collaboration. Resilience Networks are becoming an essential tool in this process.
Elemental to social systems, governance and business within the Resilience Networks is the recognition that human society relies on ecosystem services. We must manage our environmental assets locally, regionally, nationally and globally, in order to support and maintain our options for prosperity into the future.
Risks & Threats - Identified events or situations which have in the past, or may in the future, result in mortality or changes in health, and/or destruction to property, infrastructure and systems must be tracked and risks and threats mitigated.
Vulnerabilities - The sensitivity and degree of exposure of an individual, family, neighborhood, community or region need to managed in highly vulnerable populations. Vulnerabilities are generally considered the attributes which may weaken a community's ability for a resilient response to change. Vulnerability can be viewed in terms of a natural hazard where frequency, intensity, timing and magnitude are factors of impact. Vulnerability can also be related to states of being such as those related to socio-economic factors including poverty, housing quality, access to health services, and community connections. Vulnerabilities are often related to the capacity for maintaining and improving the health and wellness of the individuals, communities and ecosystems.
Adaptive Capacity - The ability of a community (or system) to modify or change its characteristics or behaviors to cope with an actual, or anticipated change event. Adaptation is generally thought of as a response to a stressor.
Mitigation - Steps taken to pre-empt or avoid a risk or threat.
Community - In speaking of resilient response to change, communities can be divided into:
Communities of Place - defined as entities in a geographic region such as a neighborhood, a town, or county.
Communities of Interest are defined as those who come together due to having a common interest or belief such as a faith-based group, those who play sports, families, students of a school, those who work for a corporation, those who use the resources of the same watershed.
Community of Emergence are those who come together over a particular event or issue such as a natural disaster or specific social needs.
Relational Entities in the US Government
Medical and Public Health Information Sharing Environments (MPHISE) -- an MPHISE is an component of a Resilience System for building collaboration and sharing information on health issues within communities and between communities and government.