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Optimizing Cities for Crises

Curiously, some cities have, over time, become better at preparing for crises, while others have not. This paper explores how to optimize cities for crises, as well as growth, learning, and other seismic changes.

This paper takes a deep dive into optimizing cities for crises. Crises are often characterized as low-probability events with severe negative consequences. Although the likelihood of such an event occurring at any one specific time is extremely small, the likelihood of it happening eventually is virtually 100%. Global recessions, 100-year floods, ecological collapse, military conflicts, and pandemics are examples of these. These events are probabilistic, but not unpredictable. Curiously, some cities have, over time, become better at preparing for such eventualities, while others have not. This paper addresses how cities, when given the autonomy to design their own institutions and policy-making apparatus, can adapt to thrive even under conditions of high uncertainty. These cities are not only resilient to crises, but antifragile;1 indicating that they not only survive crises but adaptively learn from them.

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