The rapid rise and implementation of Smart Systems (i.e., multi-functional observation and platform systems that depict settings and/or identify situations or features of interest, often in real-time) has inversely paralleled and readily exposed the reduced capacity of human and societal systems to effectively respond to environmental hazards. This overarching review and essay explores the complex set of interactions found among Smart, Societal, and Environmental Systems. The resulting rise in the poorly performing response solutions to environmental hazards that has occurred despite best practices, detailed forecast information, and the use and application of real-time in situ observational platforms are considered. The application of Smart Systems, relevant architectures, and ever-increasing numbers of applications and tools development by individuals as they interact with Smart Systems offers a means to ameliorate and resolve confounding found among all of the interdependent Systems. The interactions of human systems with environmental hazards further expose society’s complex operational vulnerabilities and gaps in response to such threats. An examination of decision-making, the auto-reactive nature of responses before, during, and after environmental hazards; and the lack of scalability and comparability are presented with regard to the prospects of applying probabilistic methods, cross-scale time and space domains; anticipated impacts, and the need to account for multimodal actions and reactions—including psycho-social contributions. Assimilation of these concepts and principles in Smart System architectures, applications, and tools is essential to ensure future viability and functionalities with regard to environmental hazards and to produce an effective set of societal engagement responses. Achieving the promise of Smart Systems relative to environmental hazards will require an extensive transdisciplinary approach to tie psycho-social behaviors directly with non-human components and systems in order to close actionable gaps in response. Pathways to achieve a more comprehensive understanding are given for consideration by the wide diversity of disciplines necessary to move forward in Smart Systems as tied with the societal response to environmental hazards.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.