Saheli has some thoughts on her website about what she would like to see in Recovery 2.0. I’d like to recap some of the overall attributes I’d like to see as well without trying to get into too many specifics.
Centralized vs Decentralized: It should not be a centralized system but instead a decentralized one. Centralized systems can easily get overloaded and collapse. Decentralized systems however can distribute the load so that if one area overloads, other areas can easily take over the work.
Rigid vs Flexible: It should not be a rigid structured system but instead a flexible loose system that can restructure itself on the fly. It is not so much building a perfect system as one that is flexible and scalable enough to adapt to different situations.
Controlled vs Autonomous: There should be no command and control center directing the operations of the people. Instead people make their own decisions based upon the situational awareness information that everyone relays to the system. A decentralized approach where everyone acts as they see fit means elements can react faster to situations without waiting for a central command to relay decisions. A “Shared Mental Model” (read about situational awareness) is critical to this approach though which means that everyone has to be on the same page with regards to how the system works and how best to deal with different situations. A lot of this is achieved through proactive training BEFORE these disasters occur (which means yes we should be doing mock disaster tests with this system to see how it works but more importantly to see how people react). A perfect way to test the system though would be using it for a real situation which is not disaster-related (since if the system is flexible enough, it should be usable for any collective large scale effort which is why for me, the Recovery 2.0 project is really just a subset of my greater Connected Communities project).
Small vs Big: The fundamental concept of the system should be small groups working on a small local scale instead of massive groups working at a global scale. By focusing just on their sphere of control and abilities, each element of the system is not overloaded by the entire collective effort but is instead able to focus on just their immediate efforts. The end result is that each independent local action connected with each other creates a collective swarm effort that accomplishes much larger goals than they ever could on their own.
Again a lot of the thinking above mirrors how the Internet works. And actually if you start looking at some of the more successful applications that are used by people on the Internet right now (i.e. BitTorrent) and how they work (i.e. small pieces working collectively in a swarm to achieve a massive collective effort) then you’ll see which direction I’m going in. Also another great source for how the Internet works is Chapter Five of The Cluetrain Manifesto which is entitled The Hyperlinked Organization.