Tag Archives: Solutions

Rioting in England

By ThinkReliability Staff

Rioting is a defined as a violent, public disorder caused by a group of persons.  It is a unique phenomenon in that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is going to trigger and sustain a riot.  Social scientists know that there is a tipping point at which participants no longer fear punishment (such as jail) as the number of gatherers increases.  However there are many common contributing factors.  A Cause Map can help sort out what led to this month’s rioting over in the United Kingdom.

It began on August 4th, following the police shooting of a 29-year old in North London.  The police claimed he was suspected of weapons possession and were attempting to execute a warrant.  During the arrest, the suspect was shot and killed.  However, questions arose regarding the circumstances of the arrest and family and friends came to believe that the victim, Mark Duggan, was unarmed.  This led to a peaceful protest of approximately 120, ending at the police station in Tottenham, North London.  Protestors demanded answers, and police officials seemed unable to satisfy the crowd.

The crowd lingered while police stalled, and grew as disgruntled local youths began to arrive at dusk.  At this point, things began to spiral out of control.  Why did this unsatisfied, but otherwise quiet gathering turn into a multi-day riot across an entire country?

According to social scientists, rioting generally occurs when there are certain elements present.  Normally there have to be a lot of people.  There also needs to be a low level of perceived risk that they will be punished for unacceptable behavior.  This perception generally increases as there are fewer law enforcement officers and also as there are more people.  Those people generally are upset about something.  There also needs to be a feeling that others are likely to join in.  But even with all these elements, a riot will not start.  The final element is a “catalyst”.  This is typically a person who has calculated that the risk of being targeted by law enforcement is sufficiently low, and acts out – such a throwing a rock through a window.

Examining the Cause Map reveals that these elements were present in the initial riot as well as in the general rioting that broke out across the country.  It becomes evident that the rioting was cyclical – the initial riot led to more widespread rioting.  And the same elements that were present in the initial riot were present in the widespread rioting as well.

After completing the Cause Map analysis, the next step is to determine how to prevent this from happening again.  Everyone seems to have an opinion on what went wrong, and more importantly what needs to be done differently to prevent such costly and dangerous behavior.  Resorting back to the Cause Map, we can look for opportunities to prevent future riots.  Some of the elements that contribute to a riot can be controlled more easily than others.  For instance it is easier to limit mass gatherings than control the emotions of a crowd.  Hence, greater police presence and an ability to clear the street – through curfew or quick arrests – are usually the best solutions for limiting riots.  A table of proposed solutions completes the analysis.

Chicago Plans for a Warmer Future

By Kim Smiley

The very existence of climate change continues to be controversial, but some cities have already decided to start preparing for a hotter future.  While the rest of the world continues to debate whether man’s impact on the world is producing climate change, the city of Chicago is already taking action to prepare for a warmer climate.

The effort to adapt Chicago to the predicted climate of the future began in 2006 under the then mayor Richard M. Daley.   The first step in the process was a model that was created by scientists specializing in climate change to predict how global warming would affect Chicago.  The output of the model shocked city planners.  Experts predicted that summers in Chicago would be like current summers in the Deep South, with as many as 72 days over 90 degrees by the end of the century.  A private risk assessment firm was tasked to determine how the predicted climate shift would impact the city.  The dire predictions included an invasion of termites, heat-related deaths reaching 1,200 a year and billions of dollars’ worth of deterioration to building and infrastructure in the city.  Chicago decided the time to take action was now.

Created by Robert A. Rohde as part of the Global Warming Art project.

Armed with the predictions, city planners began to plan how best to adapt Chicago for the warmer future.  There are a number of ways that Chicagoans are already changing how they maintain the city.  Much attention has been given to the paved spaces in the city to improve drainage to accommodate higher levels of predicted rain.  13,000 concrete alleys in Chicago were originally built without drainage and city planners are working to change this.  150 alleys have already been remade with permeable pavers that allow 80 percent of rainwater to filter to the ground below.  City planners are also changing the mix of trees that are planted to make sure they are selecting varieties that can withstand hotter temperatures.  Air conditioning is also being planned for Chicago’s public schools, which have been heated but not air conditioned until now.

Time will tell whether the steps Chicago is taking will prove necessary, but the Chicago’s adaption strategy is an interesting case study in a nation still debating the existence of global warming.

When trying to select the best solutions to a problem such as in this case, the Cause Mapping method of root cause analysis can be an effective way to organize all the information.  A Cause Map detailing the many causes of a problem may make it easier to select the most cost effective and efficient means of preventing a problem.  A Cause Map can also be adapted to fit the scope of the problem.  In this example, a Cause Map could be built to detail the issue of preparing Chicago for a warmer future or a bigger Cause Map could be built to tackle the problem of global warmer on a larger scale.

To read more about the Chicago Climate Action Plan, please visit their website.