Is SoS Engineering a Special Type of Operational Research?
SoS Engineering (SoSE), also known as Complex Adaptive SoS Engineering (CASoS Engineering), is a relatively new discipline which is applied to complex systems made up of other systems. The analytical context for SoS Engineering is SoS Analysis. In the case of sustainable development, it is a tool that helps make connections between legislative SoS variables like postal services, sustainable infrastructure, billing systems as components of Public Services Systems, etc., and the impact of each of those legislative SoS components on global issues.
Just as Management Science, also known as Operational Research, applies to the innards of organizational systems, SoS Engineering can be thought of as the application of OR to macro systems made up of complete organizations that control, for example, large machinery systems, or very large computer systems. SoS Engineering combines SoS Analysis, SoSA, with OR.
Large human-machinery organizational SoSE examples include aerospace and defence Systems of Systems. While focusing on the human factor, the System-of-System approach to legislative issues offers a holistic view to the relationship between autonomous virtual organizations -the people on one side, and the legislative and executive functions on the other, as they interrelate. For the purpose of legislative System of System Analysis and Development, the people of a nation can be considered to form part of the constituent function of legislative SoS. But there should be ergonomically correct interaction between the constituent function with the legislative function if the overall System of Systems is to achieve its objectives.
How can people and computers be connected so that -collectively- they can act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?
MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
Taking into account that legislative systems are made up of independently managed systems, SoS Engineering establishes the functional requirements that will make for a harmonic and synergistic, relationship between the different systems that make up those Systems of Systems.
The synergistic effect is augmented by the enormous and increasing amount of information that becomes available every day to constituents. In that sense, computers, and more specifically the Internet, become the source of information, of best practices and of technology in general, that constituents the world over can use to communicate constituent conflict to their legislators.
SoS Engineering, when applied to Legislative SoS, enables the implementation of standards -like the ISO Standards, so that the delivery of public services is more predictable and efficient, thus helping the continuous improvement of legislative SoS process architecture for meeting goals like the growth of national productivity.
An ergonomically correct functional structure takes into account, for example, how minor daily changes in the weather affect humans physiologically. Because the media keeps humans informed about changes in the biosphere, humas are are keen to express any environmental conflict that would arise.
Increased constituent communication of environmental conflict to legislators will result in constituent control towards a benign effect of human activities on the biosphere. Thus, increased systematic constituent control of the govenmental function they are part of -the legislative function- is imperative, if human activities are to become benign to an environment that determines the existence of human life o the planet Earth.
There is more information on System of Systems Engineering at the System-of-Systems Center of Excellence, which is more oriented towards the integration of large hardware systems and large organizations, such as in the defence and aerospace areas.
There is also information regarding systems thinking as applied to human-machine and organizational systems, at the Institute of Industrial Engineers.
Accountability and Virtual Democracies
It seems that most underdeveloped nations are in the underdeveloped side of a postal divide. This means that most countries of the Global South have not developed postal-service-based ICT processes. As a consequence, the history of inadequate postal services appears to have inhibited constituent-legislator communication activities. Now that the Internet has arrived, the constituent-legislator communication tradition just seems not to be there, so developing-world constituents do not appear to use that tool for channeling their grievances.
Also, legislators in underdeveloped nations do allocate resources, but they do not seem to wield sufficient leverage as compared to the executive function of those legislative SoS. Operations research indicates that those legislators tend to insist they have the well being of their constituents in mind, but if there is no constituent-legislator communication, legislators cannot really speak in name of their constituents, and the legislative function is not as relevant -there is no real accountability. It looks like a 21st. Century version of the virtual representation claim made by British Members of Parliament in the 18th. Century, through which lawmakers insisted they represented the interests of all colonists of the British Empire.
Operations research also indicates that the global technological constraint has created virtual democracies all around the Global South. The executive function is very powerful, as compared to the legislative function. Even if the executive function does try to be effective, without the benefit of constituent-generated information, and without the required accountability, the executive function ends not being very efficient or effective in improving the habitat in a way that would help increase national productivity and quality of life in a sustainable manner.
In the case of the so-called second world, virtual democracies also abound as a result of lack of constituent-legislator communication. A much lesser degree of virtuality exists in industrialized countries, as evidenced by such issues as pockets of poverty and distrust of government institutions. The remedy being the same, rich countries do need to institutionalize Best Democratic Practice if they are to comply with the overriding challenge, the SDGs.
Streamlining for the Future
Thus for human sustainability, SoS Engineering (CASoS Engineering) identifies teledemocratic activities, such as those ones being researched at the International Teledemocracy Centre as best democratic practice. Dealing with legislative Systems of Systems themselves is bound to help donor nations because in addition to bringing much lower costs to development endeavours, the effectiveness of constituent-legislator communication will create giant markets that did not exist before. From that perspective, CASoS Engineering can predict, as the Global Marshall Plan puts it, a global economic miracle.
And the Business Sustainable Development Commission agrees that sustainability makes good business sense. In its website, the BSDC says that sustainability can unlock at least US$12 trillion in New Market Value, while repairing the economic system.
The savings resulting from less conflict and violence will double that amount, and there are more savings available from less ODA, so it all looks like a good return for motivating workers to contact their legislators, and for rolling out adequate postal services wherever needed.
Image: © World Business Council for Sustainable Development