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Trust in Networks of People

We can build better resilience to the devastation brought about by the likes of COVID 19, conflict or natural disasters. By developing a modern, more diverse and layered civic fabric of collaboration based on public trust, society can venture forward better connected and less vulnerable.

Over the last few months, we are once again reminded that social cohesion and the direct response by everyday citizens are fundamental to the level of a society’s resilience. Therefore, it stands to reason that it’s the integrity of the human connection that contributes to, or detract from humanity’s underling resilience.

Resilience demands co-operation prior, during and after a crisis; co-operation requires a fundamental level of trust. Trust, in turn, requires repeated human interaction, building a reservoir of social capital that enables people to self-organise into networks of people in times of difficulty.

Historically the power of modern society has been achieved through a traditional method of distributing knowledge, wealth, culture and values of liberal democracy. In the face of covid19, conflict and climate change this method is proving precarious and has been society's undoing or at least its weakness for decades.

Rather than an outdated relationship with hierarchical power systems and assumptions of local communities and social links, it will be the interconnected networks of people that will create resilient systems of the future.

Separated into two primary aspects, resilience reflects our flexible resistance to change i.e. the amount any ‘network of people’ can be perturbed from their reference state without that change being essentially irreversible and the ability of a network of people to recover.

Resilience, therefore, is the capacity of a network, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances

By creating networks of people, we see resilience divided, “A virtuous circle through which communities, cities, and organisations build the capacity to both prevent predictable crises and bounce back from unpredicted ones” (Rodin)

There are basic elements of civic resilience such as diversity, modularity, and redundancy, however, it is trust that has always proven critical within acts of social resilience.

Therefore it will be our ability to develop networks of trust that will prove essential if society is to move forward prepared and healthy.

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