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by Yaneer Bar-Yam and Paul Seguin
The Future of New Orleans

Complex Systems Engineering Principles

Two additional principles have more limited realization in Project Hope and could be more widely adopted. We recommend them for flood damage reduction challenges across the nation, both future ones and in the evaluations of existing projects:

5) Active response through dynamically implemented methods of protection.[8] This is present in the closure during a storm of flood gates and the Lake Borgne barrier navigation gates. It is also present in the possibility of diverting flood waters into the Bonnet Carré spillway.

6) "Soft failure" design so that the system does not fail catastrophically only incrementally at the point of failure. A small amount of flooding can occur without serious damage, as it occurs in many places. "Soft failure" design is present in the armoring of the back sides of levees, and the use of T-wall construction, which inhibit catastrophic failure when over-topping occurs.

Authors: Yaneer Bar-Yam and Paul Seguin, New England Complex Systems Institute.

For additional information, see:[9]
Complex Systems Engineering Principles — Active Response and Soft Failure: A Visit to the US Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans, NECSI Report 2010-09-01 (2010).

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