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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

Rachel Skinner CBE, Executive Director WSP and immediate Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, previews her CSIC Distinguished Lecture in Infrastructure Intelligence.

The thought-provoking article and Distinguished Lecture – which Rachel will present on 21 June (see details and registration here) – considers ‘Sustainable infrastructure for the 2020s: what might ‘really good’ really look like?’ and calls for civil engineers and built environment professionals to shape the future sustainability of our infrastructure, and be mindful of the words we use to discuss and progress the challenge.

Published in today’s Infrastructure Intelligence (7 June), the article brings focus to the need to act now “to understand the systems we seek to change, take ownership for what we can do and be bold in the decisions we can make to strategically create the change our sector needs”.  In considering where to start to begin tackling one of the biggest areas of most urgent change facing our industry, Rachel suggests that communication and the language we use is pivotal to progress.

Rachel writes: “It matters because no person or organisation can make real headway alone – our industry needs to collaborate across sectors and specialisms – and this requires understanding what is meant by the words we use to describe our shared mission. Sustainability, net zero, and resilience are now mainstream terms that have become part of our everyday parlance. However, definitions can differ from person to person and organisation to organisation because we are all finding our way in uncharted territory. But we must get these basics right and take time to understand the words we are using, so that when we make key decisions there is clarity and we know what it is we are trying to do, measure and achieve.”

• Read the Infrastructure Intelligence article (which is based on a CSIC Smart Infrastructure Blog) by Rachel Skinner here.

• The CSIC Distinguished Lecture 2022 presented by Executive Director at WSP and former President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (2020-21), Rachel Skinner CBE is on 21 June at LT2, Department of Engineering, Trumpington Street, Cambridge. There will be a poster session and refreshments at 4.30pm in LR4 and the Distinguished Lecture will be 5.30pm to 6.45pm in LT2.

• Registration is now open at







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