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Infrastructure Resilience Conference 2018

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The Human Element in Resilient Performance Assessment – Modeling Approaches and Challenges

Many notions of resilience emphasize variously how to design, configure, and operate systems and how to prepare individuals and organizations, with the aim to optimize the system and organizational response in the face of major mishaps, so as to maintain required operations and to regain a stable state and restore normal levels of service swiftly. Human and organizational elements are nearly omnipresent, appearing in at least three ways. First, they appear as factors in the conception and design of technical systems, where the specification of design basis scenarios may be subject to “failures of imagination”, for instance, or investment must be motivated for extremely unlikely events. Second, these elements appear again during and after system commissioning, not only in terms of maintaining reliable operation (avoiding internal mishaps) but also in terms of anticipating emergencies. The organizational functions of learning from the experience of others, those who operate very similar systems as well as, through analogy, systems that may appear completely different at first glance, and anticipating potential new hazards or breakdown mechanisms, have been highlighted in Hollnagel’s cornerstones. The third appearance of human and organizational elements of course occurs in the response to major mishaps and in the recovery and restoration. In this “post-shock” phase, people and organizations implement the expertise, procedures, and strategies that they have anticipated as part of emergency preparedness. In this contribution, the need to evaluate the as-built, operated, and -organized socio-technical system in terms of its expected performance in response to a range of internal and external hazards is first presented. We argue that such an evaluation requires the development of performance models to be applied in scenario analyses, aimed at the quantification of resilient (socio-technical) system performance. The model components required for this type of quantitative assessment are identified, together with the associated modeling challenges, and different approaches for these components are outlined. The heterogeneity of past experience of major mishaps with human-technical systems is a general challenge; directly applicable experience is consequently very limited although tendencies and some recurring response patterns can be identified. Finally, the insights that may be anticipated from this type of resilient performance assessment are discussed.

Vinh Dang
Paul Scherrer Institute

Luca Podofillini
Paul Scherrer Institute

Miltos Kyriakidis
2. ETH Zurich, Future Resilient Systems, Singapore - ETH Centre


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