Resilience is about collective responsibility

The Resilience Shift spoke to CIRIA’s Lee Kelly about their work on infrastructure resilience, and why collaboration is so critical.

The Infrastructure Resilience: Risk and Response event was a follow up to our Infrastructure Resilience Series in 2016/2017. It was an opportunity to communicate more widely our relevant work streams. Infrastructure resilience covers a broad area and our role is only relevant for certain industry topics. We wanted to share with others what CIRIA brings to the table so that they could understand our value to them.

Our research work falls under two main areas: infrastructure asset management research focussing on advancing technologies, monitoring systems and modelling approaches, or the area of environmental research with a focus on the risks to infrastructure and sustainable water management. At the event we also showcased the work of others in this field. These two themes are also the areas that industry currently wants most support so the demand and funding is there.

We also work to identify good practice, seeking consensus across industry. We encourage collaboration within our sector and this is often very fruitful. At the end of 2018, Juliet Mian, Resilience Shift Technical Director and Arup engineer, was joint author along with David Pocock of Jacobs, of a thought-provoking CIRIA paper –  Resilient infrastructure futures – what does success look like?

Resilience is a long game – it won’t happen overnight. There is much that we don’t understand fully whether for practitioners in infrastructure asset management, designers or resilience practitioners – a new but growing discipline. There are language barriers and things to overcome of a softer nature.

It takes time to embed resilience and the Resilience Shift is enabling industry to make a shift and get up to speed on issues such as how to manage interdependencies. It’s also creating tools to enable non-specialists, for example those who manage the purse strings, to know what to invest in and why. We work at a technical level supporting practitioners but it’s important that we work together to convince non-specialists to believe in and understand what we are doing.

The point of the event was to explore what’s out there, how it fits together and highlight the need to respond to ongoing work and collaborate. Matt Crossman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) put out a strong call to industry in his presentation to provide them with evidence. The NIC’s work ends up in recommendations for Government, so there is a real need for industry to work together.

We hope that we were able to open eyes and encourage people to collaborate. We all have a role to play, and our different research outputs can greatly complement each other. It’s important that we recognise the opportunities and benefits from joining together our various efforts.

The Resilience Shift is also doing commendable work and bringing people together through its various activities. Owen Jenkins, CIRIA’s Director, participated in the Resilience Shift’s recent tool users and developers’ workshop and said that it was eye-opening stuff and really refreshing to see developers and end users having that interaction together.

There is a need for leadership in infrastructure resilience and the Resilience Shift has come along at a good time. There are barriers around terminology, language and funding models, issues of governance and regulation, and in how we manage interdependencies, and understand vulnerabilities across a network of assets whether you own them or not.

We should hold a collective responsibility towards infrastructure resilience in order to make significant and long-lasting differences together.

 

With thanks to Lee Kelly, CIRIA.

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