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Auckland Unplugged : Coping with Critical Infrastructure Failure - Eric Stern

Auckland Unplugged

Coping with Critical Infrastructure Failure

Paperback Published: 19th July 2005
ISBN: 9780739107744
Number Of Pages: 206

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Virtually all of the socio-technical systems that maintain public order, quality of life, and commerce depend on a reliable electric supply, and critical infrastructure failures such as 'blackouts' have profound implications for citizens and for those who govern in their name. Social scientists have noted the impact of such failures on society, and undertake the study of crisis management to improve our knowledge of why critical systems fail and how such systems can be made more reliable. Auckland Unplugged is a major contribution to this field. Using the 1998 blackout of the central business district of Auckland, New Zealand, as a case study, the authors reveal a number of important insights into the central challenges of crisis governance in post-industrial, democratic societies. These challenges include: _ Finding an appropriate division of responsibility and labor between public- and private-sector actors. _ Crafting and coordinating a crisis response that addresses perceived threats to community values and avoids the twin perils of underreaction (e.g., passivity or paralysis) and overreaction (e.g., 'crying wolf' or political grandstanding). _ Coping with competence/authority discrepancies under stress: Those who have expert knowledge of the technical issues rarely have the authority to make policy; those who have the authority generally lack the technical expertise to comprehend the subtleties and uncertainties of the issues at stake. _ Maintaining credibility and legitimacy when facing acute, ill-structured problmes in politicized, publicized, and highly uncertain environments. Such challenges are by no means specific to Auckland or to the problem of coping with urban 'blackouts.' Auckland Unplugged clearly describes and carefully explores general and recurring problems faced by crisis managers around the world.

This book offers a fascinating account of what happens when a big city faces acute infrastructural failures. It teaches us that in these situations policymakers, no matter how well prepared they are, will face surprises and vexing questions. It analyses how the Auckland authorities coped with these challenges and offers many useful suggestions for managing future infrastructural and urban crises. In short, this book is a must-read for anyone who knows that it is not just apocalyptic events such as 9-11 that can greatly disturb the fabric of modern cities.--Paul 't Hart, Leiden University

Prefacep. ix
List of Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
The Auckland Blackoutp. 1
Studying Infrastructural Failures: A Crisis Management Approachp. 3
Urban Crisis Managementp. 6
Urban Planningp. 6
City Managementp. 6
Urban Cultural Geography and Sociologyp. 6
Crisis Management in Urban Areasp. 7
Contextual Process Analysisp. 10
Thematic Analysisp. 14
Outline of the Studyp. 19
Public Sector Reform, Electricity Policy, and Crisis Preparedness in New Zealandp. 21
A Country in Transitionp. 21
Public Sector Reformp. 22
Electricity Reformp. 24
Local Government Reformp. 30
Civil Defense and Disaster Planningp. 33
The Auckland Region and its Infrastructure Policy: Key Actorsp. 41
Electricity Provision in Auckland: the Creation of Mercury Energyp. 43
The Lifelines Projectp. 46
The Power Outage Crisis: Key Events and Critical Decisionsp. 51
The Crisis in Briefp. 51
Critical Decisions and Opportunitiesp. 55
The First Cable Failsp. 55
The Second Cable Failsp. 56
The Third Cable Failsp. 60
The Unthinkable Happensp. 62
Acute Operational Changesp. 64
Developing a Crisis Response Strategyp. 72
To Declare or Not to Declare ...p. 76
Media Pressurep. 81
Shortage of Reserve Power and Expertisep. 84
Who Gets Power?p. 88
We Can't Work under These Conditions!p. 92
Inquiring Minds Want to Knowp. 94
The Cable Tests Keep Failingp. 96
The Lights Are on But Nobody's Homep. 98
Urban Crisis Management in Auckland: Thematic Analysisp. 107
Crisis Developmentp. 107
Problem Framingp. 110
Leadership and Group Dynamicsp. 113
Organizational Cooperation and Conflictp. 117
Crisis Communication and Mass Mediap. 120
Intelligence Gathering and Information Processingp. 126
Stress Managementp. 128
Symbolic Politics versus Technical-Managerial Logicp. 132
Experts and Decision Makersp. 134
Crisis Management in an Urban Settingp. 138
Sequencing and Synchronicityp. 143
Learningp. 145
Lessons for Crisis Managersp. 159
Expect the Unexpectedp. 159
Face the Worst Case Scenariop. 160
Take Care of Yourself and Your Peoplep. 161
Governments Can Be Victims; Victims Can Be Crisis Copersp. 161
Take "Political" Responsibility Sensiblyp. 163
Don't Lose Sight of the Long-Term Picturep. 164
Balance Symbolic and Operational Concernsp. 164
Beware of Credibility Trapsp. 166
Make Sure Your Message is Getting Outp. 167
Try to Work with the Mediap. 168
A Word of Cautionp. 170
Chronology of Eventsp. 173
Bibliographyp. 179
Indexp. 201
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780739107744
ISBN-10: 0739107747
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 206
Published: 19th July 2005
Publisher: Lexington Books
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.01 x 15.49  x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.34