There are underlying processes and behaviours required by the City of Cape Town to improve resilience across a wide portfolio of projects. This is a complex task to perform and achieving the required changes in internal governance on the part of all officials who already operate in a complex legislative environment. The aim is not to add new areas of work for these officials, but rather to break down silos between existing areas of work and project portfolios, in a way that will deliver a greater number of resilience dividends to Capetonians.
The key to success is enhancing staff capabilities around adaptive management. In a future of uncertainty and increased disruption, the ability to solve complex problems will be even higher. Data and information need to be harnessed toward better, more informed decisions, and long-term plans need to consider possible pathways for multiple futures. Better coordination among local regional and national systems will also prove critical for the purpose of delivering increased resilience in Cape Town’s urban environment.
In recent years, Cape Town has developed a sophisticated Corporate Project Portfolio Management system which enables the alignment of initiatives, mostly capital projects, with organisational strategy. Results have shown this to be an effective mechanism for resource allocation and improved service delivery. Cape Town’s Resilience Strategy presents an opportunity to consider resilience-building benefits across the whole portfolio of projects rather than just for individual ones, for example:
• Screening for resilience in the management of capital project portfolios to further improve the alignment of major infrastructure programmes. This is so that the resilience dividend in the built urban environment is maximised over the long-term.
• Maximising the resilience dividend at all project conceptualisation stages so that every project initiative in the city of Cape Town will have resilience planning as a foundational, methodological approach.
There are numerous, rigorous governance processes that the City must follow to ensure that projects and programmes are delivered on time. This is so that the annual approved municipal budget is expended in the way that it was intended. Looking ahead, there is an opportunity to run a resilience lens through these processes to improve outcomes in times of emergency and otherwise. An improvement in intergovernmental relations and greater collaboration in Cape Town among all spheres of government are in the interest of all Capetonians. This why the following goals are ever pertinent:
• Incorporating resilience considerations into the City’s extensive Integrated Risk Management System to generate a multitude of new resilience-building actions.
• Improving intergovernmental relations for a more effective and streamlined responses that rely on powers and competencies beyond the control of the City government.
• Adapting management capabilities to create a cohort of leaders in the City government capable of managing volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments.
• Improving decision-making for systems in stress to provide better action based on trigger points that deliberately require consideration of alternative strategies or action plans, particularly to ensure the integrity of such systems.
• Engaging in inclusive public participation processes that empower Capetonians to actively contribute to City decision-making processes, and which result in the codesign and co-ownership of projects and plans with multiple resilience dividends.
High-quality data is essential for robust decision-making, particularly in complex urban environments that are confronted by rapid urbanisation, climate change, globalisation and fast-moving technological change. As we seek to resolve long-standing stresses and prepare for both known and unknown shocks to our urban systems, data that generates rapid insight for decision-makers will play a key role in developing resilient actions. This is why the City has become increasingly data-savvy in recent years.
We now have an opportunity to develop even more sophisticated insights into changes in the urban environment, with a growing emphasis on improving our predictive capabilities. These need to be fully considered, and plans need to be flexible enough to withstand a range of scenarios. Similarly, when shocks do strike, we need to be prepared to reflect and learn from the events, in order to adjust plans and strategies accordingly and to improve responses to future shocks. For example:
• Using data science for resilient decision-making and support systems, which are expected to become increasingly complex in regards to the intersection of shocks and stresses.
• Developing resilient technology platforms to enhance service delivery and improve cybersecurity for improved robustness of the transactional and analytical platforms.
• Utilise robust scenario planning for improved resilience and anticipation of a multitude of futures when considering the development of strategies and plans for a resilient urban environment.
• Developing an open-source reflective learning tool for deployment after shock events to create a culture of improving performance and recovery the next time a similar shock occurs.
Resilience is best understood after a shock event, and even then, it is complex, as these types of events can play out in different ways. The most we can do is build resilience using the best available information. It is thus important to have innovative resilience evaluation tools available to provide insight into the resilience of systems or communities during good times and bad. These tools are mostly reflective in nature and can be populated with both quantitative data and personal insights from Cape Town community members or thematic experts. Correctly deployed, these evaluation tools can help to build a common understanding of resilience at a multitude of scales among groups of stakeholders. They can be used to measure progression or regression and to guide the development of new actions and investments, including:
• Evaluating city-wide resilience by 2021 for the provision of quality data and insights to understand the relative progression or regression of city-wide resilience over time, and to inform decision-making on new or amended programmes and projects.
• Determining progress towards the attainment of an improved water resilience framework for Cape Town, one that is supported by informed decision making.
• Developing a vulnerability index for each ward in the city to provide practical, data-driven insights into ward-level determinants of relative susceptibility, particularly for the purpose of improved planning and the assignment of resources.
Contact us today if you’d like to discuss the City of Cape Town’s Resilience Strategy or specifically the initiatives in place for a more collaborative, forward-looking metropolis.