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The Next Catastrophe by Charles Perrow

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Appendix AThree Types of Redundancy

One thing that characterizes the Internet, and to some extent perhaps the power grid, are the levels of redundancy. This is a tricky concept. I have held that redundancy that is designed in, and thus designers are aware of it, is essential and safe, but that redundancies that are added later, as safety devices, are often the source of system failures. (Perrow 1999) Their potential interaction with other failures is not foreseen by designers and not comprehensible to operators. Scott Sagan, however, goes further and persuasively argues that even designed in redundancies are a major source of accidents. He applies this to the nuclear power plant security issue. (Sagan 1996; Sagan 2003) Aside from increasing the ...

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