Urban resilience is a global challenge. Too often the emergency of the day leads to recriminations and post-event public displays of finger-pointing. The small voices of the dedicated government official, nonprofit activist, scientific researcher or journalist in hindsight prove prescient, and the catastrophe’s costs of remediation rise to unimaginable levels.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Project, and numerous national disaster response plans (such as FEMA‘s) take a longer term view, weaving from cascading risks of failure, a quilt of intersecting and interdependent agency, corporation, NGO and other organizations to forecast and mitigate the threats on urban systems and settings.
Stanford University faculty and students have been applying hackathon / lean startup methods to persistent coordination and other issues in defense and diplomacy settings. Hacking for Defense (H4D) and Hacking for Diplomacy (H4Di) courses pioneered at Stanford are now being organized and taught at dozens of universities and agencies worldwide. (See this Los Angeles Times article).
Urban Logic has proposed and is now collaborating with faculty at Stanford University and resilience professionals to organize Hacking for Urban Resilience (H4UR) as a fast 10-week (one academic calendar quarter) course leveraging the methodologies of H4D and H4Di to support Silicon Valley startup thinking that would anticipate, mitigate and respond to urban disaster conditions.
All too often, city residents ignore what happens underneath their feet, realizing after an unexpected explosion or other incident, the sheer amount of design, construction and maintenance talent supporting energy and infrastructure layers that are the foundation of our above-ground lifestyles, businesses and environments.
The engineering and navigation of sub-surface operations, rights-of-way and easements is an archeology of municipal records, archiving the civilization of urban spaces. All too often, such records are scattered, in public and private collections, subject to being lost, mishandled, unauthenticated or simply forgotten.
When the emergency happens, multiple agencies of federal, state and local government, utilities, commercial and residential property owners, insurers and others get involved to re-generate collective memory of what broke, what is worth fixing to status quo ante, and what would be best replaced with newer, more resilient infrastructure and technology. Reconstruction is delayed because of the information that is missing or needs to be revalidated. Insurance settlements and new premium rates reflect the information delays and asymmetries.
Transparency tools, such as building information models geospatially organized like a three-ring binder to align with a shared accurate street base map can start the process of planning for more sustainable and resilient systems. In turn, the models permit stress-tests and aging scenarios that improve collaborative reconstruction of sub-surface systems, and even identify vacant vault space or recyclable heat and water that can be used by smart buildings to reduce energy costs and environmental impacts.