During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw firsthand how our production systems and the knowledge we have gained through years of innovation, globalization, and outsourcing are being put to the test. Some companies have had to stop or pause their operations, while others have been able to diversify and adapt by transforming their manufacturing lines to produce critical items like respirators. The maker movement has also sprung into action, quickly producing face shields and other needed items through global and local cooperation. The pandemic highlighted the impact of national policies on certain markets, such as masks, vaccines, and medication, and the role of the digital world in connecting, educating, delivering and entertaining.

Important gaps were observed concerning the coordination of the production and delivery of basic necessities during a crisis, especially when traditional markets might be closed or overwhelmed. It raises questions from various perspectives:

  • How could local and national governments facilitate the provision of needed resources – while strengthening local production capabilities?
  • How could everyday citizens, industrial manufacturers, makers and creatives contribute to a collective effort of production when needed?
  • How could citizens be engaged and trained to help local production systems in times of crisis?

It is in this context that the idea of creating a Reservist network for quickly manufacturing products in demand emerged inside a small community of researchers, manufacturers, makers, and certifiers. By applying the concept of Reservist to the supply-chain, we envisioned opportunities to create a network of small, flexible manufacturing centers that could adapt their production to meet the urgent needs of the population and support territorial resilience with international solidarity. In the initial stages, some sort of naiveness was sensed in the enthusiasm
for the Reservist network. It was quickly realized that coordinating such a network would not be simple, as it would require a significant mindset shift and a lot of cooperation from all stakeholders involved. As we continue to delve into the concept, we are seeing the complexity inherent in it.

Fortunately, the ability to use a design-mindset and tools helped us in navigating this complex topic. We learned from many initiatives in the humanitarian sector, civil protection policies, and resilient communities, as well as from innovative ecosystems that supply critical items. We identified good practices and current concerns, and sought more opportunities for peer exchange in political, economic, industrial, and civil spheres. This helped us feel more empowered to tackle the challenges ahead. Crises can be unpredictable and can take many different forms, so it is impossible to be fully prepared for every possible scenario. However, by learning from past crises and continually improving our response strategies, we can work to become more resilient and better equipped to handle future challenges as they arise.

This book encourages stakeholders, policy-makers, industry leaders, researchers, makers, and the general public to be better prepared for emergency situations. It is a collection of inspiring stories of resilient practitioners, alongside a speculative design tool to help envision and plan for the future development and consolidation of reservist networks.

Join us on a visual journey to better understand what Reservist cultures might look like. This book is part of a collaborative European project titled Reservist. We are sharing the results of an action-research project conducted by the team at Fab Lab Barcelona in collaboration with a wide range of partners.

If you are interested in learning more on crisis response, watch RESERVIST’s virtual discussions and share experiences, develop best practices, and align values for effective crisis management.