A complex systems approach to risk management under extreme conditions
Date of Issue2009
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
The forms, severity and frequency of disasters (both man-made and natural) such as SARS and earthquakes have evolved with time and this trend is expected to continue. Conventional strategies often rely on simplifying the problem. However, this is inadequate for complex problem situations with disastrous consequences. This project developed a framework, Disaster Management System (DMS), to help to make sense and effectively manage extreme conditions. Moreover, the DMS model serves real world applications by laying the foundations for improvements to enhance the competencies of organizations. The model harnessed a Think-Plan-Do framework, Chaos Theory, Cynefin framework and the notion of robustness and resilience. The DMS model consists of three aspects, namely the Structure, Cynefin framework of categorizing problem situations and Dynamics Lifecycle concept. For Structure aspect, there are three important elements, the System & Process, Organization and Leadership, which are required for building robustness and resilience against disasters. The model provides an in-depth explanation for each of these elements as the disaster passes through the stages of Chaos, Complexity, Knowable and Known based on Cynefin Theory. The Dynamic Lifecycle aspect of the DMS model covers three stages, from pre-disaster to during the disaster itself and to post-disaster recovery. The benefits of the DMS model are then demonstrated with the aid of two case studies – SARS in Singapore and Sichuan Earthquake. The DMS model made sense of each of the real world extreme conditions and demonstrated the need for different responses at varying stages of the disasters. Recommendations drawn from the DMS model to better managing disasters in the future are also proposed.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University