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Basics of complex modern urban functions and characteristics

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System Analysis and Studies

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After reviewing several recent urban studies and experiments, SAS-ET-DU Programmatic approach to Operations in Contested Urban Environment established the need for a Research Technical Course (RTC) to provide the basics for understanding complex modern urban functions and characteristics.


The course is meant to transfer practical knowledge and recent development. The course objectives include: - Articulate the importance of urban operations and the evolution of threats; - Inform participants on the nature of urban complexities; - Set the conditions for participants to identify challenges and gaps on military capabilities and science and technology.


A three-part course is envisioned subject to further refinement by subject matter experts: Part I - As a context setting piece, consider the evolution of emerging and future threats. From a military standpoint, two challenges: that of adapting to the urban environment itself, and that of dealing with adaptations by others (to include peer or near-peer state competitors, non-state armed groups and criminal actors). Part II - Address the attributes of cities in terms of their physical, human and informational dimensions. When addressing the understanding of large complex cities, these dimensions are often qualified by notions of scale, density, diversity and flow. When studying the challenges of operations, the stressors of ‘ Contested, Cluttered, Congested, Connected and Constrained’ are often used to address the constraints. The topics considered will include: • The physical dimension addressed through the perspectives of infrastructure (indoors, outdoors, subsurface, rooftops) together with sewage, water, electricity, academic facilities, trash, medical, safety, and other considerations (SWEAT-MSO). • The human dimension addressed through the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, information, physical terrain, and time (PMESII-PT) framework. • The informational dimension captures the city networking and cyber aspects, realizing the interconnectivity with everything physical and human (e.g. IoT). • The dynamics and complexity of the cities viewed as system-of-systems. The technical course will also consider the notions of city resiliency as studied and developed by public security partners and city planners. A common notion for a resilient city is a one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity. This collective and individual capacity, planned and organized, is meant to help its citizens confront and quickly adapt when facing exceptional situations in order to, as quickly as possible, restore life to an acceptable level. This national civil preparedness, preserved and improved, is recognized as an enabling element. Part III – Finally the technical course will consider lessons learned when planning experimentations in live and virtual urban environments. This part will build on recent NATO and Allied experiments.

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