I believe that we cannot do without a resilience perspective on society and that resilience will be a key topic in the next two decades. Extreme events have become more and more severe. Whether it is storms in The Netherlands, political instability or hurricanes elsewhere in the world, these disruptions have become more common. That shift motivates me to look for systems that allow failure to occur and that can not only bounce back after disaster, but can learn from it so that eventually they become better adapted to adversity and disaster.
My research pivots around emergency situations and humanitarian aid. Within that domain I focus on both transportation & logistics, as well as communication. I want to know how we can design systems that adapt to trends and can absorb shock. For example, how can the Red Cross efficiently provide help and care for the many ongoing tragedies in the world, while being able to quickly respond when a disaster like a big earthquake or hurricane happens? Meanwhile these organizations need to take trends like migration patterns or refugee streams into account and deal with technical innovations like the possibility of using humanitarian drones to deliver resources.
As the scientific director of the 4TU RE Centre, I would like to bring the – sometimes fragmented – field of Resilience Engineering together and form a communal view on what the concept of resilience means and which kinds of systems it concerns. Because I think we can truly advance the field once we have a shared view that can shape this interdisciplinary work.
In September 2020, Tina Comes took the role of Scientific Director over from David Smeulders. Read the duo interview here.