Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 2, 2012

Nassau police turn chaos into self-organized simplicity

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on November 2, 2012

The cynefin framework has a number of suggestions about how to transform chaos into simplicity.

One example cynefin adherents frequently cite is the “Magic Roundabout” in Swindon.

The problem in Swindon (UK) was “a motorist’s nightmare which routinely failed to handle the volume of traffic which converged on it from five directions.” The fix was to “combine two roundabouts in one – the first the conventional, clockwise variety and the second, which revolved inside the first, sending traffic anti-clockwise,” like this:

Swindon magic roundabout traffic circle

I don’t know whether anyone on the Nassau County Police Department (in New York) is familiar with the cynefin framework, but it was the first thing I thought of when a colleague sent me the picture below.

As one Hurricane Sandy consequence, the intersection had no working traffic signal lights.  Instead of using police officers to direct (i.e., “order”) traffic,  Nassau police officers improvised a traffic circle, encouraging drivers to self organize.  Their solution changed a chaotic intersection into a (comparatively) simple one.

Theory and practice meet again, even if passing in the dark

Nassau traffic circle

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3 Comments »

Comment by Christopher Bellavita

November 2, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

More on self-organization…

What’s really happening in blacked-out Manhattan. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680836/whats-really-happening-in-blacked-out-manhattan#1

One comment: “Not really much of a surprise that people who choose not to wait on Government to save them are getting much accomplished and doing amazing things.”

Comment by Christopher Bellavita

November 2, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

and more on a theme that will no doubt expand as we move into the blaming part of disaster response:

The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/10/the-hideous-inequality-exposed-by-hurricane-sandy/264337/

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 3, 2012 @ 6:40 am

Responding to Chris’ last comment and the Atlantic article–The hidden story in federal disaster relief efforts is that it is biased towards the wealthy.

FEMA is NOT a social service agency!

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