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In this episode, Dr. Yeowon Kim explains the difference between “fail-safe” and “safe-to-fail” infrastructure and how shifting towards this new “safe-to-fail" design paradigm could help cities prepare for extreme events like floods. Risks and uncertainty associated with climate change in the future make predicting infrastructure failures very difficult, so designing and implementing infrastructure to be more flexible in the face of uncertainty is highly important to deal with a wide variety of circumstances. Dr. Kim also talks about the “infrastructure trolley problem” and gives us a brief lesson on Korean poetry! If you have questions about Dr. Kim’s research, you can e-mail her at

The paper we discuss, entitled "Fail-safe and safe-to-fail adaptation: decision-making for urban flooding under climate change" was published in 2017 in the journal of Climatic Change.


If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at

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