Flexible and Resilient Systems

Distributed modular systems that respond to changes and can function in various environments.

(All of the proposed criteria sound good/useful to me, but here’s a comment in favour of this aspect…)

Modular systems, that adopt common standards, are generally worthwhile in product designs - driving down manufacturing costs, and facilitating easy maintenance.

Within a water infrastructure context, a modular network of water systems offers the potential to balance supply and demand over a relatively large area (helped perhaps by an intelligent monitoring, prediction and control system).

My preference for criteria are things that can be quantified or for which a bright line pass/fail bar set.

This is required to make the prize competition credible in my opinion.

Figure-skating is judged and this is why it has scandals and controversy in the awarding of prizes. It’s much easier to clearly decide who crosses a line first, who jumps the highest, etc. (The sport five-criteria quantifiable event is the pentathlon I guess?)

How do you propose to define/measure flexible?
How do you propose to define/measure resilient?

I agree with gtparker about definitions. I think as a philosophical direction, flexible and resilient as language to keep in mind can be useful as a design principle; though a common definition is needed for focused efforts over time.

AKB said it best as far as articulating in a pithy way my own sentiments. I have more knowledge about energy systems than water systems but I think the principle here can be illustrated by an energy industry example. In this case, the difference between France and the United States in atomic power is germane. France has a single design that is safe, effective and provides power at a sensible price to a country that needs to import its fossil fuel. The United States has numerous idiosyncratic atomic power plant designs. It has experienced accidents such as the notorious Three Mile Island fiasco about forty years years ago. Let’s not screw up our water system by doing what the U.S. did with atomic power. the French example in atomic power should be the model here for water systems, although the water desalination system I like (it may not be the best but it is known to me) is an Israeli system described in 2016 in Scientific American.magazine…

Resilience is a characteristic a water system should embrace in this times. We are in the water plant world and if desalination produces 50% waste water is not a solution no matter conditions you put into the water corp. If the environmental cost results more than the potable water I would not take it as a solution. On the other hand systems totally imported and not applied to realities in L.A for example could not result successful…

Thank you all for sharing your insights here!

So far, this has received 13 votes, which would make it one of the top 5 criteria for teams competing in a Circular Economy XPRIZE.

Let me ask a few more members for input. @Bnjoroge, @deepakmaurya, @kimbed2, do you agree this should be one of the top 5? If so, please give this another vote!


I would have to read more detail about what flexible and resilient mean in this context. Existing water infrastructure is already designed to last for decades and we may not want to commit to longer lifetimes than that if we want to stay “flexible” to the needs of the community which will no doubt evolve and change over the course of decades. Distributed systems can also be more complicated to maintain (is there a storage backup in case one system needs to be shut down for repair? Does every distributed system have a storage backup or connection to another system just in case? Are there small pumps in every system? Are there potential cross connections at the borders of distributed systems?). Economies of scale can also be advantageous, so smaller distributed systems may be more costly in that sense as well.

There are systems that have
to be adapted to growing contammination in fonts that where not originally considered by it. (due to chemical containts changing) Resilient and sustainable are two words that function together.from my point of view. Some systems at adjustment cause high costs of operation or even have to be discarded and “recharged”. If operation does not consider this the cost for water could not be predictable and this could be a real problem.