New Methods for Analysis of Systems-of-Systems and Policy

The Power of Systems Theory, Crowd Sourcing and Data Management

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Our world is a complex socio-technical system-of-systems (Chappin & Dijkema, 2007; Nikolic, 2009). Embedded within the geological, chemical and biological planetary context, the physical infrastructures, such as power grids or transport networks span the globe with energy and material flows. Social networks in the form of global commerce and the Internet blanket the planet in information flows. While parts of these global social and technical systems have been consciously engineered and managed, the overall system-of-systems (SoS) is emergent: it has no central coordinator or manager. The emergence of this socio-technical SoS has not been without consequences: the human species is currently facing a series of global challenges, such as resource depletion, environmental pollution and climate change. Tackling these issues requires active policy and management of those socio-technical SoS. But how are we to design policies if policy makers and managers have a limited span of control over small parts of the global system of systems?