societal resilience header: woman wearing a mask holding an 'open' sign in the doorway of her store

Societal Resilience

Building a more resilient society through mission-driven research and applied technology

How can we prepare for unknown problems in an uncertain future?

As the events of 2020 have shown, resilience has never been more important. The challenges humanity will face in the coming years will not wait around for us to achieve incremental advances or unexpected breakthroughs. We need a new and reliable way to anticipate the technology we’ll need for the next crisis, whatever that may be, and to be sure it is ready to adapt and deploy when the time comes.

We believe that new technologies can play a crucial role in building our capacity for resilience, by amplifying the ability of organizations to reach and support the individuals and communities that make up our society.

To prepare for tomorrow’s challenges, we start by addressing the challenges of today. While the crises the world faced in 2020 were unprecedented, they were not entirely unpredictable. We have long been warned about the threat of infectious diseases, the spread of misinformation, the inequality and injustice in our society, and the precariousness of our institutions, democracy, and climate.

By identifying patterns and commonalities across many societal problems, we can tackle the widest range of those problems now, while simultaneously building the resilience that we need to withstand a future that is sure to include more instability and existential risk. Therefore, the concepts of technologies, organizations, and communities are fundamental to our approach, with the relationships between these concepts helping us to map out seven guiding principles for societal resilience research.

Building resilience at every level of society

Our initial series of case studies addresses the systemic issues of healthcare equity and human trafficking, the resilience of organizations and coalitions, and the design of technologies for implementing and informing evidence-based policy. Subsequent case studies will cover our broader portfolio of Societal Resilience work, including community-based healthcare, verifiable elections and clinical information, anti-corruption technology, adaptive infrastructure, and more.

societal individual resilience image: Young woman receives a canned food item from food bank. An unrecognizable volunteer hands her the canned food item.

Individual resilience

Protecting the rights of marginalized, exploited, and vulnerable communities

Read “Tech Against Trafficking” >

societal individual institutional image: group of people working around a table

Institutional resilience

Supporting the operation and cooperation of business, government, and civil society

Read “Mapping Organizational Resilience” >

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Infrastructure resilience

Sustaining the sociotechnical networks delivering essential goods, services, and utilities

Read “Covid-19 Vaccine Eligibility Bot” >

Societal resilience (information resilience) - two female scientists reviewing a computer onitor

Information resilience

Reducing barriers to data sharing, collaboration, and evidence development

Read the paper >

Learn more about complementary work on Environmental Sustainability >