This year’s challenge is to develop a better understanding of “urban resiliency” such that leaders throughout public and private spaces have a metric-based, visual tool to better understand the stability thresholds of a city. Mass urbanization is changing humanity’s landscape, with more than 50% of the world’s population now living in urban areas and projections indicating this trend will continue. Rather than continuing to analyze problems and solutions from a nation state perspective, United States Military Academy (USMA) suggests that this shifting demography supports similar shifts in the power of cities to drive policy solutions as well as demand new policy considerations. At the same time, these shifts also represent potential gravity wells of instability, as informal settlements and swelling peri-urban communities strain already stressed public service systems.
As such, it is incumbent on scholars to assess the unique challenges associated with understanding how formal and informal networks fulfill essential service delivery to citizens, what happens as service delivery structures succeed or fail, and how these networks interact with each other to build urban resilience. There are numerous socioeconomic, political, environmental, and human rights inputs that contribute to urban resilience. Synthesizing these inputs into a visual model that presents a clear, concise, and consumable interface is critical and applicable to numerous practitioners. The team is expected to analyze this problem through an interdisciplinary, system-of-systems lens that isolates key variables associated with potential regime shifts from stable to “feral” cities, or anywhere in-between.