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Research Commentary: Increasing the Flexibility of Legacy Systems

Research Commentary: Increasing the Flexibility of Legacy Systems
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Author(s): William L. Garrison (University of California at Berkeley, USA), Barry Wellar (University of Ottawa and Wellar Consulting Inc., Canada), Ross MacKinnon (University of Connecticut, USA), William R. Black (Indiana University, USA) and Arthur Getis (San Diego State University, USA)
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 17
Source title: Emerging Methods and Multidisciplinary Applications in Geospatial Research
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Donald P. Albert (Sam Houston State University, USA) and G. Rebecca Dobbs (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1951-7.ch012

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Abstract

Flexibility is what people seek when striving to increase or expand economic and social choices, equity, and technological innovations. Flexibility provides the robustness needed to adjust to changes such as those arising from a warmer/colder world, and the actions required when managing threats from and results of social strife, economic downturns, environmental catastrophes, infrastructure disruptions, and war. Flexibility is easy to praise at the level of principle, if allowed that a bit of stability and resistance to change does have merit. At the level of practice or operations the concept is most elusive, and explaining what flexibility means, why it is thwarted, and how it might be obtained is a challenging task. This paper begins by contrasting views of systems and their behaviors. Alternative explanations for behaviors thwarting flexibility are identified. Consequences of inflexible, locked-in development paths are illustrated using examples from transportation and similar systems. Suggestions for increasing flexibility are made after examining system behaviors in dynamic contexts. Academic, government, and industry experiences inform and color interpretations.

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