Safety: A system state or property?

John Stoop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Safety is frequently addressed as an emergent property of complex and dynamic systems. This contribution advocates the validity and importance of incorporating intrinsic technological hazards and systemic interrelations from a multi-actor perspective in the early phases of design and development. This perspective creates inherent properties in various system states, which may manifest themselves as emergent properties during operations. These safety properties are based on their business models, selectively focusing on primary system components such as infrastructure, vehicles or traffic management. Experiences with major aviation and railway projects highlight the potential of engineering design approaches such as multidisciplinary design optimization, value engineering and vectorial state/space modelling. Such an approach has high change potential for a specific category of high energy density complex socio-technical systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-141
JournalJournal of Safety Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • safety
  • systems engineering design
  • emergent properties
  • railways
  • aviation


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