World Central Kitchen
Develop a systems perspective framework to be used to perform this and other future COVID-19 rapid response research. The purpose is to maximize the effectiveness of future rapid response research. The potential impact is that critical research is performed and transferred to use as soon as possible to save lives from the COVID-19 outbreak. The work done in Privatization A Systems Perspective is a template to follow for all other areas attempting to gain a systems perspective. Additional systems perspectives are in Systems Practices and Systems Design.
Systems engineering in the previous century was used to address new problems that were difficult to solve and the solution needed to be quickly developed. It is based on using an internal team and the vetting is done by the internal team up until the time when the first prototypes and production system elements are developed. This is why there are a large number of stakeholders on a system development team that even include the future users of the system. Eventually the system is deployed and it is either accepted or rejected as part of a verification and validation process that begins with the start of the project on day one.
Systems engineering uses modeling as much as possible. However, a major portion of systems engineering is qualitative in nature and relies on the system developers to make assertions about the system. This is referred to as key requirements, key issues, key observations, and key assumptions. This is an iterative process. As more is learned about the system the assertions come and go, some get backed up and others may never be backed up. The solution moves from broad abstraction views with little details to detailed specific views of the system. This is referred to as pealing the onion. The assertions are constantly updated as the system moves from high level abstractions to the details. The assertions are based on previous, current, and new:
These assertions are vetted by the system team. This is why it is critical to have a strong competent systems team well versed in their specialties and able to engage in critical thinking. The act of gathering all the facts and data to back up the assertions may take too much time and may not even be available because the area is new with little or no data. This approach relies on the judgment of the systems team because they determine which assertions survive and which fall by the way side. In the end the system will be verified and validated by the users, assuming there are no external forces making the users accept a poor or dangerous system solution.
A systems approach draws on work from 5,000 years of civilization. Obviously this includes various research activities:
The following is offered from Systems Practices As Common Sense:
What is Systems Engineering?
Imagine a place where you create things and make decisions where there are no hidden agendas and all stakeholders are treated equally. How would potential approaches surface, how would they be narrowed and selected, how would decisions be made? What tools and techniques would be used if they were not the greatest moneyed interests, the most politically powerful, or the most dangerous?
Systems Engineering is based on logical methods using reasonable techniques understood by reasonable people in a process that is fully transparent and visible to everyone. Everyone has a view of all the alternatives. Everyone has a view of all the decision paths. Everyone has an opportunity to impact the alternatives and decision paths.
Do not fall for the rhetoric that this is mob rule or design by committee. These are reasonable people using thousands of years of tools, techniques, processes, and methods to make informed decisions. There are no hidden agendas with vested interests or people who just give up and go silent or worse compromise. Everyone is comfortable with the decision because it is intuitively obvious to all. Everyone obviously has responsibility in such an endeavor. No one can ignore that responsibility.
The following was offered as a definition of Systems Engineering from Systems Engineering Design:
Discipline that concentrates on the design and application of the whole (system) as distinct from the parts. It involves looking at a problem in its entirety, taking into account all the facets and all the variables and relating the social to the technical aspect. -- Simon Ramo.
In the span of a year the systems team accesses and reviews thousands of pages of documents, dozens to hundreds of studies, and places all the information in an Engineering Notebook Library (ENB) that is used by new staff as they enter the project or program. As part of systems engineering - models are developed, various analysis is performed, prototypes are developed and understood, products are reviewed, site surveys are performed, stakeholders are included, etc. Every 3-5 days the staff present their findings to each other for review and discussion. This leads to new insights and new paths of research that lead to accessing more documents, studies, research, existing products information, etc. It is all placed in the ENB. Today we have the memex. Eventually a system solution starts to surface as part of an architecture description and then eventually an implementation. This solution is completely beyond any patents, non-disclosure agreements, and non-compete agreements because it is a breakthrough solution made up of elements from 5000+ years of civilization. Today some may view this as big science or big engineering. In the past this was viewed as just normal systems development done by very capable organizations able to organize the vast resources needed for such an activity. Entities that used patents, non-disclosure agreements, and non-compete agreements were viewed as bringing little to nothing to the table and they could be easily invalidated in any court of law. If something did become part of the system solution, the high tech ethical entities compensated the appropriate entities. They would be purchased outright or infused with massive money in a partnership arrangement to go to the next level and bring their critical new technology to market.
Author Comment: By 1980 many concluded that there was massive fundamental research and technology sitting on the table that needed to be accessed and converted to working systems. The estimates in the halls of some companies suggested that there was up to 20 years of research and technology that needed to be harvested and converted to working solutions and the only way to do this was to use systems engineering. Many also concluded that the massive research and technology was no longer attributed to a single or handful of inventors but hundreds of participants suggesting that the patent process no longer applied in the new complex world that surfaced after World War II. Instead the objective was to be the first to market rather than to seek patents that would be difficult if not impossible to defend. During that time the costs of computers and other machines dropped to a level where anyone could purchase computers and other equipment; The barriers of entry had all been removed. Massive capital investments were no longer needed. The society had become that efficient. Anyone could research, develop, and bring to market an infinite set of solutions. The "business / financial system" reacted and the result was the resurgence of patents and legal mechanisms to raise the barriers of entry and eventually block new work from all except those able to establish the new massive legal frameworks. By the end of the century fast food workers needed to sign non-compete agreements just to get a minimum wage job while assembling hamburger and French Fry meals. By the 21st century technical society publications were removed from all company libraries and the only way to access information was to become a member of hundreds of societies or work for very large universities that would provide library access. This eliminated 99% of the people from the social system that previously contributed to the research, development, technology, working products, and systems. The competition was effectively eliminated. Now we have to deal with the COVID-19 disaster and it remains to be seen if the 99% of the people locked out of the solution space will be able to participate like they did in the last half of the last century.
Fundamental research or pure research is research that everyone acknowledges may not lead to immediate benefits other than increasing the body of knowledge in a particular area. Basic research tends to be performed in universities and non-profit organizations with a research charter. Applied research deals with solving practical problems. These problems may be the result of a market analysis or other system needs analysis. It also may be the result of inspiration while engaged in or examining fundamental research. However the purpose is always to further some practical goal. This is in contrast to basic fundamental research, which is to discover new phenomena or new ideas of general interest. The steps in conducting research are:
Research is vetted by peers that are spread across the world. Publication is how the research is vetted. This process by its very nature is slow. Because this vetting is long and complex it is critical to ensure that the research is backed up by significant amounts of data. One mistake in the data will cause the research to go back to the beginning of the publication and vetting process. This delay can take years so years are spent internally vetting the research to ensure that it is rock solid.
Problem solving in a body of knowledge is the act of solving a problem in a body of knowledge and publishing a paper on the work. This can be part of a technical conference or as part of a product development. In this case a simple set of questions are used to frame the content of the paper. They are:
Problem solving in a body of knowledge is vetted by peers via publication in trade journals. Many do not wait to implement the approach to the problem that is being solved, instead they implement the solution. This is more of a disclosure process letting peers know what has been done to solve a particular problem. The actual solution is then accepted or rejected by the stakeholders that will depend on the solution.
Journalists engage in research and the result is an information product that informs the reader. The elements that are always addressed in journalistic information products are:
The work of the journalist is vetted by all readers including other journalists. The challenge of the journalist is to ensure that all the facts are uncovered for each of the fundamental questions being asked and addressed. Propaganda, disinformation, misinformation are not journalism. Those information products may contain a large amount of journalistic elements but it is compromised with the introduction of just one element that pushes an agenda rather than discloses facts about the situation.
In the previous century great thinkers like Woody Woodpecker and Mickey Mouse taught that the modern miracle of US production was based on research in a process that included:
As a child I laughed at this as trivial and obvious. It was just common sense. Today I am horrified to see that this basic common sense has been removed from the culture. No one knows this and if you state it they laugh. The next horror that I recently learned is that you can't fix stupid. Stupid people have access to knowledge but they refuse to accept it for reasons that are at best bizarre and insane at worst. The key is to ensure that stupid people never are in important positions of authority especially systems engineering.
When engaged in systems perspectives there is a process that tends to be followed. There are many words that are used to describe the process and there are variants to the process but there is a core or essence that tends to be followed:
The following is offered as a quick start guide for a small system. It is based on small projects. It is an iterative process. Each process is unique and bound to a solution and organization. These are broad suggestions for consideration.
The following is offered as quick start guide for very large-scale systems. This is based on a process used at Hughes Aircraft Fullerton. The applications were air defense and air traffic control. These systems were delivered around the world in various physical and cultural environments. They were and are some of the most complex systems known to humanity. Each process is unique and bound to a solution and organization. These are broad suggestions for consideration.
As we list the activities associated with research, problem solving in a body of knowledge, other areas, and the systems perspectives there are correlations that can be made. The big question is can the systems perspective inform research and result in more effective research.
In the case of fundamental research there is overlap but it is unclear if a systems perspective will provide benefits to fundamental research. This is because the system solution is working towards a working system. Fundamental research may or may not provide a working solution because failure is a key element of fundamental research.
In the case of applied research there are benefits when the systems perspective is considered. Understanding the need and stakeholders force the applied research to be useful. We also see that adding alternatives and some form of selection to first an architecture concept prevents wasted time if design solutions are cherry picked and selected because of external influences. Adding the reality of determining the ability for an architecture to be produced ensures that the applied research can be realized and not lost in a paper exercise.
In the past applied research was performed in companies. Unfortunately in the 1980's all the great company research labs in the US were shed from the revenue producing elements. The research labs were cast adrift with no connection to reasonable funding sources and no connection to the reality of meeting stakeholder needs. The companies themselves lost the pipeline that fed them new products and ideas. What replaced this system was a venture capital based system and university participation in applied research. Both these events removed the systems perspective to applied research that existed when it was performed in company research labs.
ref: Systems Practices . Systems Design
Although we can point to new systems, products, and technologies, we may never know what may have been if the system of applied research did not lose its connections to a systems perspective. There has been an attempt to understand how our progress in new systems has changed since 1945 but it was from the perspective of privatization of government. The suggestion is that we have suffered a loss, but the loss may be attributed to the change in the fundamental research system. It is possible that privatization might have been the root cause of companies shedding their research labs and that may have translated to the suggested loss.
ref: Systems Perspective
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Today we have many being forced to accept poor and dangerous system solutions because of a collapse in management that started in the late 1980s. The Boeing 737 MAX is a classic example. So while we need systems engineering to address a crisis like the COVID-19 disaster, we need to understand that it can be easily compromised. The alternative of waiting for the long research cycle to start to offer solutions will still need to be converted to working systems with compromised management still able to damage the solution and yield a failed or dangerous system.
Applied research labs were funded and controlled by companies in the previous century. They provided products and systems that addressed the massive needs of the commercial and industrial base that resulted in our modern civilization. Their notes of contribution are just a tiny sampling of what they provided. The following is a small sampling of these research labs.
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Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are public-private partnerships that perform research for the US Government. They are funded each year by congress. During World War II scientists, engineers, and mathematicians became part of the massive war effort and it was recognized that this led to winning the war. The key contributions included RADAR, aircraft, computing, and nuclear weapons. It was recognized that there was a need for organized research and development in support of the government. This was formally published in the paper Science The Endless Frontier [ref] and made into policy after the war. Government officials and their scientific advisors advanced the idea of a systematic approach to research, development, and acquisitions, one independent of the ups and downs of the economy and free of the restrictions placed on civil service. From these needs and resulting requirements the FFRDCs were established. FFRDCs are private entities that would work almost exclusively on behalf of the government, are free of organizational conflicts of interest, and maintain a stable workforce composed of highly capable talent. The RAND Corporation was established in 1947 and it supports the U.S. Air Force. MIT Lincoln Laboratory, was established in 1951, it originated from the Radiation Laboratory at MIT. The Navy's Operation Research Group evolved into the Center for Naval Analyses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has undergone several name changes through the decades but it was formed in 1946 with roots that trace back to the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas in 1942. It is a Federal Agency, under the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability both domestically and internationally. The CDC focuses on developing and applying disease control and prevention especially infectious disease and food borne pathogens. Other areas include environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, injury prevention and educational activities for the purpose of improving the health.
There are many FFRDCs but there is no FFRDC to support the needs of the COVID-19 crisis. This is a list of existing FFRDCs by Agency, Sub Agency and FFRDC Name:
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MITRE has stepped up to the COVID-19 challenge. At the request of the Mayo Clinic, they have formed the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition and they have redirected internal resources [ref] to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The challenge is to link MITRE to commercial industrial companies. That link is missing and it is critical that this link be established because Applied Research has no value unless it is connected to Development and ultimately Manufacturing.
Research and Development
Why is the previous Hughes Aircraft discussion so important today. It is critical to understand that rich people today are not like Howard Hughes. There is no equivalent to Hughes Aircraft. There is also no equivalent to RCA. The reality is only nation state resources can address massive problems especially the COVID-19 crisis. They have the money and the power to organize the people and the industrial base.
The following is sourced from: Privatization a Systems Perspective.
The tone and policy of the US between 1945 and 1980 was set when President Roosevelt requested a report from the Office of Scientific Research and Development on what can be done after the war. This resulted in the report Science the Endless Frontier [NSF]. The government architecture was as shown below: Pre-Privatization US Federal Government.
Pre-Privatization US Federal Government
After 1980 there was a new set of policies that started to surface and became entrenched by 1987. Privatization of the US Government began in 1987 when President Reagan signed Executive Order 12607. This resulted in the report, Privatization Toward More Effective Government. This set the tone and policy in the US that still exists today. In their day even Hughes and Sarnoff at RCA would have contacted the Federal Government to offer help but they clearly would have stated that they could not deal with this challenge and that the Federal Government must step in to marshal the needed resources in a coordinated systematic way. Unfortunately the industrial base and the government architecture have changed as shown below: Post Privatization US Federal Government.
Currently the National Governors Association is the focal point for dealing with the US COVID-19 disaster.
Post Privatization US Federal Government
There is now evidence suggesting that privatization has led to systemic government shutdowns and other negative unintended consequences including serious damage to the industrial base, colleges, universities, and the citizens of the United States. [ref] Has privatization also broken the research, development, and manufacturing process that existed in the previous century? Is this why the USA is struggling and performing so badly when dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Systems Architecture Big Picture
There is the big picture of the total system that includes both government and industry where industry encompasses everything including Universities and All Research. When the big picture system is examined there are new insights that surface.
The big picture system has inputs and like all systems it has outputs based on a transfer function . The transfer function is based on laws, regulations, international agreements, enforcement, and available natural resources. As the transfer function changes, the outcomes change. This is a massive system so any changes in the transfer function have a large hysteresis. Most of the transfer function changes manifest themselves in the outcomes over years or decades. We also know that this is a complex system with massive internal dependencies, and it is difficult to predict the outcomes when there are changes. In most instances all we can really do is observe the outcomes. If the outcomes are bad, we can tweak the system in some direction until the outcomes move away from a bad condition. If the outcomes are good, we can still tweak the system to get even better outcomes.
The outcomes can be identified and tracked using quantitative and or qualitative data. The ultimate check comes with the citizens who control the system by votes and participation in the system.
The system should respond to the outcomes in a causal loop, but it does not in all instances. If the outcomes are ignored for a very long period and the population suffers long enough the system self corrects with a revolution. The big issue is the outcome levels between an ideal system and a poor system. The citizens may suffer but not enough to move into a revolutionary state.
The transfer function in the system might be reasonable or even the same as in other high-performance systems but the system outcomes may be very poor. In this case the system is compromised and the transfer functions while written down and institutionalized may not be used by the actual system. Instead hidden stakeholders have implemented hidden transfer functions to game the system in their favor at the expense of everyone else. This is a compromised system.
The US previously led the world in dealing with crisis situations. This was viewed as sound policy to ensure a safe and stable world. As the Federal Government has stepped away from its leadership role in the US the USA has stepped away from its leadership role in the world. Just like the states depended on the Federal Government to properly lead the COVID-19 crisis response, the rest of the world depended on the USA to take on that lead. Is it possible that the world wide COVID-19 pandemic is a direct result of the loss of US Federal Government leadership? What will history write?
Moving forward when addressing the concept of a COVID-19 Rapid Response Research effort, will the research be effective and will a Systems Perspective help to make the research more effective? If so, who or what will add the systems perspective to the COVID-19 research especially the Applied Research, Development, and Manufacturing?
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Projections suggest the US needs 900,000+ ventilators and the current supply is completely inadequate. Further the US has limited manufacturing capacity to deal with this shortfall. The Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates about 960,000 COVID-19 patients in the U.S. might need a ventilator. But there are only about 200,000 machines available. The potential impact is that millions of people may die unless the ventilator need is satisfied immediately. The major manufacturers are outside the US and unable to handle the demand.
Major manufacturers 2019 [wiki ref].
The reality is that the rich around the world have purchased their own machines for their personal needs. Even if the US government imposed controls it would be of no value. The only alternative is to search for Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMB) with capabilities close to what is needed for low tech ventilators. Asking an automobile company to retool to start to manufacture ventilators is irresponsible and shows a complete lack of a systems perspective. However, they should start Ford . GM. But in addition the SMBs need to be mobilized to also begin production of Ventilators.
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The following is a list of companies and funding sources expressing interest in manufacturing Helmet Based Ventilators. It is included here to illustrate that there is something very wrong with US industrial policy and its response to the COVID-19 crisis. There is also something very wrong with Applied Research in the USA. This may be an example of the collapse of Applied Research in the USA.
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There are hundreds of pharmaceutical companies that form the industrial base. A list of pharmaceutical companies is maintained at [wiki ref]. The following is a list of the top 25 companies by sales.
Top 25 Drug Companies 2006 [wiki ref]
The manufacturing of the drugs may be outsourced to China and India. The FDA regulations are different for US versus non US manufacturing facilities. This is a significant issue because of quality problems that surface during manufacturing. This has been detected with the COVID-19 test kits ordered by individual US states to deal with the crisis. Test kit orders originating from Chine have been defective and US states have been stuck with useless products. This is not just a US problem it is international.
Spain returned more than 600,000 flawed kits to its manufacturer, a Chinese company Shenzhen Bioeasy Technology. Spanish health authorities didnt seem concerned that the company isnt permitted to sell them in China itself. When microbiologists pre-trialed the kits on a sample of known COVID-19 patients and only 30 percent were accordingly diagnosed, Health Minister Salvador Illa tried covering his departments back by claiming Bioeasy was licensed to sell kits across the EU but provided no evidence to prove it.
The Czech Republic purchased 300,000 kits for $1.83 million to carry out 900 daily tests but they were only 20 percent accurate. The EU Medicine Agencys guidelines, on par with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), require that tests be 80 percent accurate on average.
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The key systems perspectives triggered for each project are shown below.
A: Project - Systems Perspective
B: Project - Ventilators
C: Project - Return to Life Systems
|Systems Perspectives Triggered||
|System Design Theory Philosophies and Art||04/01/2020||04/05/2020||04/22/2020|
|Key Requirements Analysis||03/21/2020||04/22/2020|
|Technology Assessment and Management||04/04/2020||04/22/2020|
|Tradeoffs & Decision Making||04/05/2020||04/22/2020|
|Quality / Test / Certification|
|Vendor Request For Information (RFI)||04/06/2020|
As time moves on other systems perspectives will be triggered. The dates intend to capture the triggered times. It is interesting to see the large number of systems perspectives triggered with just the inception of this research. As time moves on it is anticipated that new systems perspectives and more depth will be added to each of the triggered systems perspectives.
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This research is being performed using the memex. The memex was first conceived in 1945 in a paper called As We May Think. Since 1945 generations of engineers and scientists have worked tirelessly to make the memex a reality and you know it as the Internet. Its original purpose was to Educate and perform Research. E-commerce and social media came much later and many that used the Internet for Research and Education have died. The memex is being used by healthcare providers around the world to deal with the COVID-19 disaster in real time. Please forward the information on this page to everyone everywhere.