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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

CSIC held a roundtable discussion as a fringe event at the Global Engineering Congress (GEC) at the ICE Headquarters in London. The roundtable, Smart sustainability - Data and information as engineering tools to mitigate climate change, included leading figures from the infrastructure and construction sector, academia, sustainability, finance, insurance, development and policy.


The GEC (22-26 October) was organised by ICE in partnership with the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) and brought together more than 2000 delegates from over 70 countries to help address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  

The CSIC roundtable was called to discuss the subject of ‘Smart sustainability – Data and information as engineering tools to mitigate climate change’ and was structured around three questions to bring focus to the topic and shape content of a paper planned to capture outputs from the discussion:

• How can civil engineers engage with the challenges of mitigating and responding to climate change?

• What is the role of data in mitigating risk and unlocking projects?

• What are the challenges and opportunities of implementing smart infrastructure solutions in a developing world context?

Professor Lord Robert Mair, Head of CSIC and former ICE President, opened the roundtable stressing the wider context of the GEC as giving engineers “a real opportunity to galvanise the global community and help improve the lives of millions of people”.

Dr Jennifer Schooling, Director of CSIC, set the scene for discussion with a presentation looking at data as an engineering tool. Dr Schooling highlighted the need to make the most of our existing infrastructure and resources: “We cannot simply build our way out of a capacity constraint, and we have a moral obligation not to. Being better engineers means minimising resource use, reducing waste and increasing sustainability in the way we design, develop and deliver what we build.”

Tom Foulkes, Consultant, Tim Embley, Group Innovation and Knowledge Manager at Costain, and John Pelton, Programme Director at Jacobs facilitated discussion following five-minute interventions presented by invited speakers including: Kirsten Henson, Director at KLH Sustainability; Prof Richard Dawson, Professor of Earth System Engineering at Newcastle University; Olivier Hautefeuille, Head of EMEA, SCOR Global P&C; Dr David Tyler, Associate `Director, Water and Wastewater Sector Specialist, EBRD; and Steven Crosskey, Head of IPM Strategic Initiatives, Infrastructure and Project Management, UNOPS.

“Bringing together leaders from across industry and academia to engage with this subject from a range of perspectives and experience was immensely valuable and highlights the benefits of working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way.” said Dr Jennifer Schooling.

“CSIC was delighted to be part of the GEC event and is grateful to all of our partners and colleagues for taking part. Our roundtable provided an opportunity to discuss the role of civil engineers in the context of global challenges and to consider data as an engineering tool to mitigate and respond to climate change,” said Dee Dee Frawley, CSIC Programme Manager. “The recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes clear the urgent action required for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C and the potentially catastrophic consequences of not acting to meet this target.”