Crisis Response – 2 Articles To Download:

Article 1: The Day After – Priorities In Reconstruction:

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The legend of the Tower of Babel taught us that without communication there is no coherent nation. This holds just as true today — communication and working communication infrastructures are a vital element in reconstruction or rebuilding after a war, crisis or disaster. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.

Pieter Brueghel The Elder’s Tower of Babel, 1563. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

Government silos cannot synchronise in speed and magnitude with the high pace and destructive power of a large crisis. And interoperable networks are the key to crisis exit or reconstruction, according to Michel Nesterenko.

During most of the 20th Century the Euclidian-Newtonian mindset has fashioned our economic, political and social organisation. According to this prevalent philosophy, complex problems can be broken into independent parts. The problems and issues inherent with each part can be solved by taking only the context of the specific part into account.

The use of linear logic held that when added to each other, the independent solutions of each part would make a coherent whole. This reasoning worked fairly well for issues that were not too complex. But in highly complex or chaotic environments, Newtonian solutions and linear logic do not work.

We now have the science of complexity and chaos, with its non linear logic, to explain and help manage the extraordinary crisis environments that are becoming more and more prevalent. Applying the Newtonian mindset, our governments and the military have been organised in silos, with little or no horizontal communication, except at the very top.

With the increasing complexity of the technology-based digital world, our government and military began to rely increasingly on networks for their very existence.

The US military, which is at the forefront of the digital evolution, is talking in terms of network-centric warfare.The network-centric government cannot survive for long if the underlying critical infrastructure network is not functioning.

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Article 2: Complexity And Chaos: (2006):

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Much is known today, from a theoretical standpoint, about the dynamics of chaotic and complex events. Yet there is little practical application of such modern science in the field of Institutional Emergency Management – say Michael Nesterenko and Patrick Lagadec.

When you make one — or a couple — of deadly mistakes. you fix the problem; this is tactical common sense. When you discover a series of repetitive flaws, you can change the rules; this is doctrine, When confronted by a constant flow of fiascos, the fundamental concepts at the core of visions, goals and practices must be reinvented.

Five years after 9/11 and one year after Katrina, we have reached this point.

The issue is not that gaps persist in the security net, but that our understanding of the very purpose of the net is now outdated. Courageous new creative vision and daring leadership are what we need.

Five years after the destruction of the World Trade Center by foreign terrorists, the US Federal Government is still trying to fix the intelligence and emergency management failures identified by the 9/11 Commission. Congressional audits indicate that intelligence is still substantially segregated in silos and, by and large, not accessible to the first responder who could make use of it.

Interoperability of communication is still some distance in the future. Borders are not yet ‘fully’ under surveillance.

The freight industry is following the principles of declaratory security, with few true physical audits.

Chasing Rainbows:

Elsewhere, at airports, the London episode (August, 2006) with liquid borne explosives indicates that addressing the current threats is like chasing rainbows: we are stuck with an outdated threat typology where liquid threats are not identified.

In 2005, the destructive violence of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, coupled with the limitations of the New Orleans levees, dealt a blow to the credibility of the US Federal Government’s claim that everything was ‘under control’.

Such a clear failure of the US institutional emergency management system four years after 9/11, and billions of dollars of investment. forces the question: “Are we tackling the right institutional problem?”

Furthermore, after the failure of emergency management during Katrina, we are now faced with the failure of reconstruction.

Because of the magnitude and the complexity of the economic destruction, the Federal Government rightly focused on marshalling the huge budgets necessary for reconstruction. Yet one year later, little has been done on site. The promised budgets are stuck in bureaucratic red tape and it will be decades before normal life is truly restored. In the meantime, the citizens are waiting and suffering.

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