System of systems

Integrated functioning of several independent subsystems connected by layers of interdependence.


1. In a system of systems approach, subsystems are independently useful and can be operated as stand-alone components, independent of the larger system of systems, and regardless of the physical proximity or the specific sectoral service they deliver.

2. Resilience of individual infrastructure assets and subsystems should be viewed in the context of the larger system of systems they comprise. Resilience of the system of systems is dependent on the resilience of the subsystems as well as the critical nodes of interdependence between subsystems. See also “Infrastructure linkages”.

3. See also “Organizational learning”.

Cyberattacks on data centres - Impacts on cities

Cities are intricate webs of people and services, comprised of a complex and interdependent system of systems. These systems include energy, water, sewage, food, transport, health, biodiversity, as well as economic, social, and cultural systems. The resilience of critical nexus infrastructures such as data centres is vital to ensure the effective functioning of these interconnected systems.

The rising threat of cyber-attacks on such infrastructure is a significant risk to the entire city. In the past, cyber-attacks targeted specific organizations or service providers, but the growing importance of data and connectivity across all city systems means that an attack on a city's data centre or telecommunications network can now bring the entire city to a halt. This lack of connectivity and data access can disrupt automated businesses, prevent people from accessing food and medicines, and even leave city officials without the information needed to manage the city's infrastructure, transport, and environment.


Source: Beeton, D., Thrower, G., Nair, S., Tewdwr-Jones, M., Kempton, L., & Giorgini, P. (2020). (tech.). Cities at risk - Building a resilient future for the world’s urban centres. Lloyd's. Retrieved February 15, 2023.