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An article by CSIC Investigator Dr Kristen MacAskill highlighting the importance of resilience in decision-making for our critical infrastructure systems has been published in the industry publication Infrastructure Intelligence.

Dr MacAskill, and Assistant Professor in Engineering, Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge was a contributing expert at the recent Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) and Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy (CPIP)-hosted UK-US workshop that brought together a small group of international experts from academia, policy and practice to explore how to improve infrastructure delivery in a post-Covid world through innovative funding and financing as well as emerging technologies.

The world is rapidly changing – climate change is leading to more frequent extreme weather events, rising temperatures are affecting biodiversity, urbanisation is accelerating, and new emerging technologies are shaping the way we live and work. Our experience of the past few decades no longer provides a sound basis to inform what the future will bring – we need a shift in our thinking Dr Kristen MacAskill, CSIC Investigator

The article ‘Making resilience a certainty in an uncertain world’ addresses the discrepancy between challenges of exposure to and costs of disasters – including drought, wildfires, severe flooding and storms – which are dramatically increasing around the world, and our ability to manage risks and uncertainties in the long-term, which requires far more attention.

Dr MacAskill, who comes from Christchurch in New Zealand, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2011, writes: “Typically, we have looked to past events and experience to create the basis for standards of acceptable levels of safety and provision of service for our infrastructure. But the world is rapidly changing – climate change is leading to more frequent extreme weather events, rising temperatures are affecting biodiversity, urbanisation is accelerating, and new emerging technologies are shaping the way we live and work. Our experience of the past few decades no longer provides a sound basis to inform what the future will bring – we need a shift in our thinking.”

Bringing focus to traditional risk management that “seeks to quantify and categorise risk according to impact and likelihood, where greater importance is placed on treating risks that have the higher combined likelihood and impact ratings”, the article calls for fresh thinking in the ways we make decisions about our critical infrastructure systems to acknowledge uncertainty and better engage with our complex world “to explore the challenges we face globally and to translate that knowledge into action at a local level”.

The article concludes: “The process of building resilience requires everyone to be at the table and for everyone to have a voice. We need to integrate resilience in our everyday thinking and conversations and identify where we can highlight these issues when we are planning our projects, engaging with our communities, and making decisions that will affect the shape of our towns and cities, places and planet for generations to come.”

• Read the article in Infrastructure Intelligence here.

The Infrastructure Intelligence article is based on a CSIC Smart Infrastructure Blog that is the second in a series bringing focus to the topics under discussion at the CSIC/CPIP workshop. The workshop brought together experts to discuss numerous pressing policy challenges, including infrastructure resilience in the face of climate change impacts, net zero carbon and social equity, with a view to identifying potential policy implications and research needs. The outputs of the workshop will be crafted into a series of white papers, which will be shared with a wider audience. Please sign up to the CSIC mailing list or see the CSIC website to learn more.

• Read the first Smart Infrastructure Blog in the series, ‘The role of infrastructure in levelling up – are we creating vicious or virtuous cycles?’ by Dr Rehema Msulwa, Research Associate at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, here.

• Dr Kristen MacAskill presents ‘Resilience Engineered’, a three-part series commissioned by The Resilience Shift on some of the most pressing challenges associated with 21st Century infrastructure systems development, with the concept of resilience as the underlying theme. Watch the series at https://www.resilienceshift.org/resilience-engineered.

 

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