VD - Villes Durables 

Gouvernance des systèmes urbains pour une ville résiliente – RESILIS

Governance of urban and technical systems for a resilient city

RESILIS project developed tools to implement the innovative approach of urban resilience. This implementation in applied in strategic territories like cities. The project provides interesting answers. After the detailed analysis of the principle of urban resilience, we developped methods of construction, and even co-construction. This construction mfthod allows the development of a set of pre-operational tools.

Characterizing urban resilience and implementing the urban resilience approach to enable communities in the management of their territory's resilience

Cities are becoming more and more complex with social interactions, high degree of connectivity and competitiveness objectives. If urbanity results from resources accumulation, power concentration, territory attractiveness and culture, it is also a risk producer. Risk management is mainly focused on crisis management at the expense of risk prevention and recovery plans. Proposals, reommandations and actions are usually focusing on a single category of stakeholders (decision-makers, network managers, business, emergency services) while interdependencies between organizations (social infrastructures) and infrastructures are strong in urban areas. Besides, risk management fosters short-term measures and struggles to involve people. Defined as the ability of a city to absorb disturbance and recover its functions, urban resilience seems to meet these new requirements in risk management because it can tackle the issues identified above. RESILIS project aims at developing innovative solutions to improve resilience of cities: better multi-scale and multi-stakeholder governance, public involvement, consultation practices and optimal management of technical networks.

Considering these issues, an analysis of the urban system as a system of subsystems supports an integrated approach based on a better understanding of interdependencies and interactions between actors. The implementation of functional analysis methods (from safety functionning science) describes internal functions and external interactions of the different components of the city. Then, an analysis based on experience feedback, failure scenarios and domino effects, identifies and assesses the impacts of these disturbances on the urban system. The results highlight the critical components that increase the city’s vulnerability. Once the theoretical framework is defined, the confrontation with local actors’ perceptions and expertise can refine the characteristics of the resilient city and help defining monitoring indicators. In particular, diagnosis tools can be implemented with local managers (including urban services) in order to highlight the technical and organizational measures contributing to the city’s resilience.

We define the urban system as a system having five interacting subsystems: population, housing, businesses, public infrastructure and technical systems. This macroscopic description of the city allows us to refine the description of each system. This approach highlights the different functions of the subsystems, that will have to be maintained in case of disruption. The use of interdependence and reliability methods to urban system components allows the identification of possible failure modes and their effects on urban system's functions. This innovative approach provides a rich material useful to analyze disruption scenarios that could impact the urban system.
After a literature review regarding vulnerability and assessment methods, we define urban resilience as the ability of a city to absorb a disturbance and recover its functions after the disturbance (Lhomme et al. 2010 ). To complement the previous results, we analyse relvant experiences and best practices to identify properties and indicators for a resilient city. We identify three resilience factors:
• technical resilience as the capacity of technical systems to support a disruption and limit its effects;
• organizational resilience as the ability of stakeholders to adapt their organization to disturbances;
• cultural resilience is the ability of individuals, groups and more generally all stakeholders, to cope with disruptions towards a quickly recover.

Our research led to the design of a methodology to improve the resilience of urban areas, supported by 12 tools. It will help local authorities implementing this approach. A practical guide summarizes this approach and will be made available for communities.
Two focuses on buildings and drinking water systems describe operational ways to move towards a resilient design and management of technical components.
Finally, methods and tools of education, communication and information allow communities and training organizations to develop a culture of resilience, through awareness-raising of policy makers, city managers and citizens.
The entire work done during the RESILIS project will support local authorities or private companies in their approach of risk management focused on resilience improvement.

Two articles were published in a special issue of Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences : «Natural Hazards Resilient Cities«. The first focuses on the auto-diagnosis tool for urban service interdependency identification, and the second on the resilience of urban systems to climate change.
An international symposium (proceedings published by Taylor & Francis) was organized with the participation of the consortium in November 2011: «How the concept of resilience is able to improve urban risk management? A temporal and a spatial analysis«.
Several communications outreach-oriented were published in les cahiers de l'IAU-IdF, Écocollectivités, as well as in professional meetings: ASTEE, EP Loire, club ViteCC, Resilient Cities.

The multitude of complex urban systems, combined with the autonomous of structuring technical systems (hard-wired telecommunications networks, radio, television, mobile communications, rail and other transport networks, water and waste water networks, energy networks, etc.), together with the numerous territorial service organisation and governance levels (city, grouped cities, departmental, regional, state and European levels), induce major malfunctions when problems are encountered. The numerous interactions between these various systems further increase global fragility, even where this multiplicity could be put to good use to transform it into redundancy and the development of interoperability. Any such malfunction is increasingly rejected by urban populations, numerous as they are and widely differing in social and cultural terms, stressed by their day to day environment and fre-quently requiring and expressing substantial expectations in regard to this environment from both the technical, social and human points of view. Globally, the urban system, in common with each of the individual systems on which it is based, is potentially vulnerable to the hazards associated with climate change, natural and technological risks or malevolent acts. These hazards are not new in themselves, but what is new is their frequency and intensity. Despite their different causes, the consequences of these events, in particular in regard to a return to a balanced situation regarded as equivalent to the preceding situation, are of the same nature (interrupted service, destruction, etc.) which is why they can be integrated in the same approach. The main objective of the RESILIS project will consequently be to propose ways and means for reducing the vulnerability of the system and facilitating the recommencement and continuity of activities. Using a long-term oriented systemic approach, we shall firstly be seeking both organisational and methodological responses with the aim of 1) creating synergetic governance of all levels; 2) adopting long-term, responsible management of the networks; 3) devising new design rules for technological tools and 4) and obtaining, by information and suitably adapted awareness enhancement, a positive contribution from populations and the economic players. Importance will also be attached to the predictability angle as, at the current time, predictability levels for systems in the event of a hazardous situation are extremely low, and correct anticipation of the reactions of complex systems is extremely difficult. It will consequently be necessary to extend our knowledge of both threats, initiator effects and weak signals. We shall take the human dimension into account as, through its imagination, adaptability and will to win, mankind can, provided the objectives are clear, overcome certain inadequacies of generic direc-tives and on occasions excessively complex engineering. The consortium set up for the RESILIS project, associating three leading French engineering entities engaged in substantial activities at international level, and research centres of repute both in France and other countries, has brought together the skills and expertise required to establish answers to questions emanating from the project call. This will lead to establishment of the foundations for urban resilience engineering designed to support the decision makers, economic players and populations in the development of genuine urban resilience.

Project coordination

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


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