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Building resilience into cities

By Susan Howick - Posted on 20 June 2018

Management Science professor Susan Howick blogs on the European research project she and colleagues have been working on with academic partners in Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Over the last three years academics from the Department of Management Science have been part of a consortium working on developing new tools to support European cities in becoming more resilient.

Colin Eden, Igor Pyrko and I have been working on a 4.6 million euro-funded Horizon 2020 project along with academics from Agder University in Norway, University of Navarra in Spain and Linkoping University in Sweden. A key focus of the project was to co-create tools with cities, therefore the consortium also included representatives from the cities of Rome, Glasgow, Bristol, Donostia/San Sebastian, Kristiansand, Riga and Vejle. The final members of the consortium were DIN, the German Institute of Standardisation and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability.

The co-creation element of the project was crucial and thus the project involved workshops held in each of the cities participating in the project, pulling in experts from the areas of focus for the project; climate change, critical infrastructure and social dynamics. The result of the work is the creation of a European Management Guideline to support cities in their resilience building journey. Embedded within this guideline are a number of tools.  One key tool is the Resilience Maturity Model that provides cities with a framework to assess the maturity level of their city with respect to resilience. A city can assess its baseline stage of maturity and the tool then provides policy suggestions, along with examples of how these types of policies have been implemented in other cities, to support the city in achieving a higher maturity level.

Understanding the risk landscape is also an important part of resilience, therefore another tool - which Strathclyde led the development of - was a risk evaluation tool. The tool differs to traditional risk tools (such as a risk register) as they normally regard risks as being independent from one another whereas, in reality, risks impact one another. This is particularly true for cities where their systems and infrastructures are becoming increasingly interconnected.

The tool considers risks as networks and presents these through a series of risk scenarios that are created from the interactions between risks. The tool asks users to consider the likelihood of these scenarios occurring in their city. A fundamental aspect of using the tool is that it has been created to support multi-disciplinary discussions regarding how risks can create consequences across a city.

Bringing stakeholders together in this way attempts to avoid different functions working in isolation from one another, which can create significant issues for a city. For example, one large city we worked with noted that “the silo based nature of several territorial organisations … is by far the most relevant governance issue of the city”. The tool is therefore aimed at getting different parts of a city to work together to prioritise resources to tackle the most significant risks across a city.

Cities currently contain over 50% of the world’s population and this percentage is increasing, thus city resilience is a key challenge for the world. The project we have worked on for the last three years set out to support cities in their resilience journey and we hope to continue to support cities in the challenges they face.

Further information on the project can be found here and there is a video on the project and urban resilience to watch here



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