IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 71

the microgrid exists in its ability to generate, store, and
consume electricity from a number of locations independently, with or without grid connectivity [3]. Thus,
from the perspective of the consumer, the microgrid
can remain operational across a broader range of situations, including some disasters [4]. In situations where
disasters affect the grid and microgrids remain operational, microgrids demonstrate added utility. Such utility
is expressed as an availability of necessary infrastructure to facilitate more unconstrained contact with surrounding affected populations.
The utility of microgrids in disaster situations is far
more complex than traditional cost-benefit analyses are
able to capture and often extend beyond monetary
terms. As with any technology, producing a business
case involves an evaluation of costs and benefits to
inform investments in ways that justify value propositions among options aligned with desired goals [5]. In
the context of microgrids, costs and benefits are often
expressed by limited comparison of infrastructure
expenditure and expected outage costs against service
reliability [1]. Such limitations stem from regulatory barriers that limit the economic gains feeding electricity
back into the grid from storage [6]. These evaluations
also ignore utility either not previously observed or
extend beyond intended design elements. This is understandable, as disasters are unpredictable in their probability of occurrence and magnitude [7], [8]. As such, the
latent utility of microgrids is difficult to ascertain, as
there is an inherent degree of uncertainty of the conditions in which they are realized.
Risk research has acknowledged the need for new
ways of observing the value of technologies in extreme
situations [9], and raised the prospect that existing technologies have elements of design that enable robustness [10], [11], and even antifragility [12]. Yet, little is
known about the latent value of these technologies as
parts of socio-technical systems. Example case studies
exist where the benefits of microgrids in disaster management are made clear, despite being outside the originally intended design objectives [13]. Two specific
examples of a microgrid's latent value exist in its ability
to serve to distribute aid in disaster relief operations,
and the ability to reduce the possibility of ethical
breaches in disaster management.

Antifragility and Robustness
in Socio-Technical Systems
Risk management is generally used to inform decisions
that aim to minimize loss in uncertain settings. Loss minimization can be achieved through risk identification, avoidance, mitigation of effects, and enabling recovery [14].
Generally, system design choices will result in either a
greater (i.e., fragility) or lesser sensitivity to disruptions (i.e.,
DECEMBER 2019

∕

robustness) [15]. For example, electricity systems often
include redundant backup supply to maintain continuous
electrical service despite disruptions in the grid. In the
event of an outage, the backup system is used to supply
electricity, and consumers remain insensitive to the outage. Thus a technology will enhance the robustness of the
socio-technical system if it remains operational while being
exposed to the negative consequences of risk events.
Systems can also be the opposite of fragile, meaning
that a system benefits from shocks and stressors, termed
"antifragility" [16]. While the robust system is insensitive
to changes in the magnitude of uncertainty in the environment, antifragile systems perform better as uncertainty
increases. To exemplify antifragility, periodic floods allow
for communities to learn and adapt hazard management
practices and become better prepared for extreme floods
[17]. Antifragility can also be observed when a stressor
uncovers a technology's previously unknown, valuable
capabilities. The antifragility of a technology is often a
part of its product design evolution aimed at getting benefits from disturbances in order to improve future performance. In doing so, the technology is enhanced in its
ability to create value in unforeseen circumstances [18].
Bringing concepts like robustness and antifragility to
more realistic applications, one has to acknowledge the
existence of boundaries of magnitude of disasters. Too
severe a disaster will inevitably lead to a loss in most
real-world applications (e.g., hormesis) [19]. A range of
disaster severity exists that will render a grid inoperable
while a microgrid remains operational, but at greater
severity the microgrid too will be rendered inoperable
(see Figure 1). Within these two boundaries, the scale of
antifragility and region of robustness properties of the
microgrid can be best appreciated. Such boundaries may
also exist among other technologies. Consider the example of data storage with a backup component. The data
storage may be compromised by a data loss event, but
backup will remain operational. Across a range of data
loss event severity, the backup may remain intact and
thus reveal latent value in preserving the data exhibiting
robustness. Hypothetically, some data, available in the
backup can also become more valuable in its ability to
address some broader impacts of the data loss event. In
this hypothetical scenario, the backup exhibits some
antifragility, as its value increases as the severity of the
data loss event increases.

Microgrids as Hubs for Disaster
Relief Distribution
Disasters affect communities in ways that overwhelm
their capacity to recover without external intervention
[20]. The effectiveness of the intervention is influenced
by the availability of the remaining infrastructure. For
example, critical infrastructure that survives the impact

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

71



IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019

Contents
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - Cover1
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - Cover2
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 1
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - Contents
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 3
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 4
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 5
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 6
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 7
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 8
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 9
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 10
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 11
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 12
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 13
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 14
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 15
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 16
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 17
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 18
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 19
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 20
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 21
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 22
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 23
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 24
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 25
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 26
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 27
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 28
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 29
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 30
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 31
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 32
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 33
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 34
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 35
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 36
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 37
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 38
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 39
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 40
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 41
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 42
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 43
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 44
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 45
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 46
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 47
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 48
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 49
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 50
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 51
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 52
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 53
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 54
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 55
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 56
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 57
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 58
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 59
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 60
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 61
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 62
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 63
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 64
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 65
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 66
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 67
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 68
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 69
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 70
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 71
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 72
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 73
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 74
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 75
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 76
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 77
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 78
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 79
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 80
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 81
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 82
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 83
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 84
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - Cover3
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_december2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_september2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_june2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_march2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_december2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_september2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_june2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_march2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_december2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_september2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_june2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_march2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_december2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_september2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_june2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_march2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_december2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_september2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_june2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_march2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_winter2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_summer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_spring2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_winter2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_fall2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_summer2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_spring2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_winter2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_fall2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_summer2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_spring2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_winter2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_fall2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_summer2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_spring2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_winter2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_fall2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_summer2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ieee/technologysociety_spring2013
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com