Hindsight leads to insights with critical review

Peter Hall, Global Manager, Resilience/Sustainability for Wood Group, and Resilience Shift Ambassador, provided a third-party review of the Resilience Shift’s work on tools and approaches to enhance infrastructure resilience. He reviewed the project’s journey with a critical eye and concluded that a number of useful insights could be had from looking at how the project took place, as well as from the overall outcomes and resources created.


In early February 2019 in London, I had the privilege to attend the third workshop hosted by the Resilience Shift on tools and approaches, part of a focus on ‘making resilience relevant, tangible and practical’.

Having also supported earlier workshops in October (Washington DC) and November (New Orleans) it was a great opportunity to review the connected themes, outputs and impact these workshops will have on the overall goals of the Resilience Shift and on infrastructure resilience.

Reviewing the workshop approach

These invaluable workshops pulled together for the first time, and in a consolidated manner, the range of resilience tools in the market and evaluated them in the context of a project value-chain.

The focus of each of the three workshops was intentionally sequenced to build on tools, influencers and end-users of the tools. For the resilience tools that were reviewed, common questions were asked that allowed all tools to be reviewed within the context of an infrastructure project’s life-cycle – an ideal way to understand tool applications, as well as to use and identify tools that could be applied to similar assets.

This workshop framework also allowed for an understanding of key gaps, application strategies and linkages to the processes of design and build of resilient infrastructure.

What we learned by asking these questions

Important outputs from this groundbreaking work that can contribute to the needed shift towards building resilient infrastructure included:

  • There are many resilience tools in the market (100+) each with a range of complexity and often tailored to specific sectors and specific project life-cycle areas (e.g., not the entire project lifecycle).
  • A community of practice is needed where end-users can access the tools, and integration with the personal element of resilience (who needs the tools, how they lead to community resilience and the amount of time required to generate outputs).
  • The Resilience Shift matched tools to entry points in the lifecycle which was invaluable to future use and to developing a community of practice.
  • Tools require that the users understand where they fit into the project life-cycle and what their asset stakeholders require.
  • There is a gap in tools that integrate resilience across the value-chain (design, build, operate and maintain) and that link OpEx and CapEx funding allocations to embed, maintain and measure resilience.
  • Longer time scales must be included / recognised in some of the tools.
  • Interconnections within assets are key criteria for project success and this was a gap in some of the tools.
  • Tools tend to be developed as sector specific which can be a shortcoming as the interconnectedness of assets is critical for the delivery of the full-value of projects. However, there is potential for cross-sector applicability.
  • Tools need to focus on critical assets and operations for our clients and build-in “safe-to-fail” provisions.
  • Tools often did not drive and measure the co-benefits that projects can provided to communities which is a key component of resilience.
  • Aligning tools to the finance and procurement portions of the value-chain is a gap and needed to really advance and build projects.
  • Investors are increasingly required that climate impacts and resilience be measured and monetized, and the social impacts our infrastructure provides maximised. Resilience tools provide an important part of that need but also lack in general the connection to social benefits and financial measurement.

Other general observations from the discussions

  • Timing: Asset owners and cities usually need to get their projects funded, developed and underway immediately, and therefore time is of the essence.
  • Monetising and measuring: It was clear that alignment of tools with incentives is occurring but there is much-needed work to do. There is a gap for tools that can monetize and measure the value of resilience for the insurance and finance sector.
  • Value chain mapping: It was helpful to see how the range of tools fitted into the value-chain and highlighted the strengths and gaps moving forward.
  • Complex or simple: A balance between complexity (time) and simplification (rigor) is needed for tools to be used and for them to deliver the intended outcomes.
  • End-user-needs: These workshops highlighted for me the importance of developing tools from user-needs and not as a top-down approach.
  • Existing vs new infrastructure: It was also observed that many of these tools are applied to new infrastructure and there is also a need for tools that can support asset ‘retro-fits’ to existing infrastructure and assets.
  • Expertise: The level of tool complexity is also a key consideration as stakeholders and asset owners have to apply these to their projects within their current roles and are not expert users.
  • Obvious gaps: The workshops also highlighted the need for infrastructure organisations to integrate resilience across the entire value-chain. There were gaps in areas such as procurement, measurement, flexibility and scalability within the resilience tools space.

Being part of a community with shared aims

By developing a community of practice where users can search for needed tools by sector, value-chain (project delivery entry-point) and level of complexity, the outputs from this work can contribute to the building of resilient infrastructure.

Having a global influencer such the Resilience Shift that is agnostic to available tools is also a clear strength along with its being an organisation that is formed around a common definition of resilience (a safer and better world), which this work aims to accelerate.

The value of this work

With 70% of the world expected to live in cities by 2050, city resilience is one of the things we absolutely ‘have to get right’. An important part of that is leveraging tools and systems to integrate resilience into our infrastructure. The outcomes from the Resilience Shift’s work have made an important contribution to how we can integrate tools and approaches across the value-chain of projects to enhance infrastructure resilience.

Peter J Hall

With thanks to Peter Hall, Wood.

You can find out more about the work on tools and approaches here or listen to an interview with Áine Ní Bhreasail from the project team.

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