The research mission of the MAS department is to improve our understanding of how decision-making, change and coordination of and within sociotechnical systems, happens. We do this with the goal of designing systems interventions grounded in justice across multiple values inherent to modern societies and to provide actors within these systems with sufficient perspective to act. In doing so, we describe systems and processes empirically, we model them (analytically and computationally), analyse them, and design interventions for them using a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Stories of Science
The Future Ground: Planning cities for an uncertain futureIt is estimated that some 5.5 billion people will live in highly vulnerable climate regions by 2050. However, cities are grappling with ways to think and plan for a resilient future. To become resilient to extreme climate disruptions such as flooding and droughts, cities must transform long-term urban planning. With her advisors, Dr Nazli Aydin and Prof. Tina Comes, PhD candidate Supriya Krishnan is developing "The Future Ground": a methodology for long-term urban planning under climate change.
Safety first: evacuating with common senseIn case of a fire, an attack or other emergency, you want to leave a location as fast as possible. However, it’s often still a good idea to first take a moment to listen to or look at the instructions. But of course the instructions then need to be available. Evacuation expert Natalie van der Wal investigates, with the help of human behaviour and computer simulations, how an evacuation can be organised as efficiently as possible. And how well organised are the evacuation protocols of TU Delft itself for that matter?
Dialogue with residents creates a pleasant living environmentWhen residents feel connected with their neighbourhood, they feel more responsible for creating a pleasant atmosphere. But how do people connect with their living environment and how can you support that process? This is what Geertje Slingerland researching: "I find it fascinating how people live together in the city and would like to establish a dialogue between policy makers and residents in order to create a pleasant living environment."
Resilient water management in India through adaptive policy analysisOver the last decade, uncontrolled growth has transformed rural villages around major cities in India into peri-urban areas. The original water infrastructure in these agriculture-dependent villages is ill equipped to cope and this is creating tensions. Together with local stakeholders, researchers Leon Hermans and Sharlene Gomes are taking stock of vulnerabilities and opportunities for adaptive water management for sustainable development of the areas.
More grip on the unpredictable energy transition with GridMasterWhat kind of investments are needed in the Port of Rotterdam’s energy infrastructure to ensure a successful energy transition? A consortium of grid operators, government bodies, port companies and research organisations have joined forces to launch the GridMaster HIC (port industrial cluster) project. “GridMaster is a multi-model method that supports the exploration of robust investments, regret minimisation and various perspectives. Organisations can use it in their decision-making processes, thereby ensuring that the energy transition can take place in the best, most effective and most acceptable way possible,” says Igor Nikolic, a researcher at TU Delft.
Analysing firefighter calls on New Year’s Eve with open source dataAt present an active societal debate is going on in the Netherlands whether consumer fireworks should be banned. This debate follows from increasing violence directed at first aid responders, annually increasing arson and damage to public and private property. Researchers Mikhail Sirenko, Trivik Verma, and Igor Nikolic analysed firefighter calls to support the debate with facts and figures.
Promoting social interaction through online gamesToday’s society is faced with the challenge of communities that do not really participate in society. They keep to themselves and hardly interact with others in public spaces. This is often the case in urban districts. The municipalities of Rotterdam and The Hague embrace this challenge as an essential element of social resilience and want to address it in a positive way, through serious gaming. In the research project ‘Secrets of the South’ TPM researcher Xavier Fonseca focuses on the design of meaningful social interaction by making use of multi-player online games: “I want to contribute to making these groups feel they belong.”
How to guarantee public values in crowd-based innovations?In today’s society, citizens are increasingly taking on a new role relative to the government and business community in the supply of products and services such as energy and transport. Examples include initiatives such as neighbours who join forces to purchase wind turbines, house swaps via Airbnb and transport using Uber. This can present challenges for the existing public structures, creating tension between the public sector and these initiatives. Who is actually responsible for what? How can you ensure that public values, such as equality, justice and privacy, can be guaranteed in these unregulated initiatives? “Questions like these take centre stage in the NWO Responsible Innovation project ‘Governing Crowd-based Innovation (CBI)”, says project leader Eefje Cuppen. “Although there has been previous research into these kinds of initiatives from an economic and innovation perspective, this approach is unique.”
Creating a tolerant society with games and classical musicOpenness and tolerance are essential public values in our democratic society. Being prepared to actively listen to each other is a fundamental aspect of an inclusive and sustainable society. But whether we are all such good listeners is questionable; in fact we often overestimate our ability to truly listen to other people and therefore understand them.
The central premise of our research is that the design and management of system change is subject to continuous tensions. This tension stems from several hallmarks of modern society:
- Grand societal challenges inexorably push and pull systems to change and adapt;
- There is a variety of players, often with conflicting interests, who are almost all interdependent;
- Sociotechnical systems have no clear boundaries, and different actors will define the system in various ways, depending on their perspectives;
- There is great uncertainty and an abundance of ambiguous information on the performance of both systems and actors;
- Actors have or develop conflicting perceptions concerning the system itself, its performance and governance requirements.
Changes that affect these systems are increasingly fast-paced and dynamic, with disruptions affecting governance and complicating decision-making, requiring novel coordination and governance solutions.