Motivating Challenges

How might we inspire and enable communities to be inherently more resilient to global shocks and adaptive to changing realities?

Now, more than ever, it is imperative to search for viable answers to this question. In our globalized world, societies have become more fragile and vulnerable to cascading failures in networks. In domains such as cybersecurity, finance, energy production and distribution, the world continues to build systems whose complexities will never be fully understood. We must adopt a resilience mindset moving forward to mitigate the impact of the unexpected.

Having spent ten years in the US national security community and participated in our response to the changing threat landscape post-9/11, I’ve come to the conclusion that our best hope for a bright future lies at the local level. Within our local communities, through increased local production of critical resources and use of alternative mechanisms of economic exchange, we have the opportunity to control the local consequences of global shocks. Capitalizing on the collective skills and experiences in our local communities, we can build more vibrant local economies that leverage exposure to the global marketplace to thrive.

The road toward this resilient future is clearly replete with challenges. A renewed focus on strengthening the social fabric of our communities is key. Without a shared sense of community, it is very difficult to develop solutions to pressing problems that engage the broader community, let alone foster a broader conversation about the nature of those challenges.

Advances in technology have given us the building blocks for changing the ways in which we see our world and coordinate our actions. We now live in an era where we are awash in data about our environment. Making sense of this data to understand our world remains a challenge. Yet there is tremendous opportunity to expose larger issues, ignite conversation and catalyze action.

I am interested in the roles that technology can play in supporting more vibrant communities that experiment and learn to shape their future. Even with a clear understanding of our present environment, the courses of action necessary to steer toward a brighter future are uncertain. It is time to begin exploring the attributes of next-generation platforms that support connection, engagement and coordinated action. Given the uncertainties that lie ahead, there is no better time to tackle these design challenges than now.