We expect the services delivering energy, water, waste, transport and ICT to be available whenever we need them. But pressure from population growth, land-use change, increased demand, climate change and other factors means that significant changes may be required in the future to deliver sustainable and resilient systems capable of supporting national growth.
Extreme events can disrupt or cause the complete loss of essential infrastructure services such as water and energy supplies, transportation and communication networks – even the current variability in UK weather has an impact on infrastructure performance.
The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) 2017 identified the main climate risks to infrastructure as:
- increasing frequency and severity of flooding from a range of sources is the most significant risk
- changes in temperature and rainfall will place additional pressure, particularly on the rail, road, water and energy sectors
- any increases in maximum wind speeds during storms could have significant impacts.
A number of projects work on the interdependent nature of infrastructure, while others are looking at possible transformational changes. All are providing fresh insights on the challenges of supplying reliable infrastructure services.
Many aspects of infrastructure are interconnected and dependent on each other; failure in one sector can quickly lead to a cascade of failures affecting other sectors. Such interdependencies are likely to increase in future, adding complexity to risk analysis and the decision-making process.
- iBUILD – developing new approaches to infrastructure business models particularly at the local and city scale.
- ICIF – understanding the opportunities emerging from the increased interdependence of infrastructure systems.
- ITRC / MISTRAL – considering the energy sector within the overall national infrastructure system looking at performance, risks and interdependencies.
- Liveable Cities – delivering global and societal well-being through radical engineering solutions, while adhering to a low-carbon, resource secure future.
- ReVISIONS – explores the inter-relationships, tensions and interactions between infrastructure policies and plans at the regional and local scales and explores pathways to reorient the city-region from its ‘linear’ input-use-dispose metabolism, to a more efficient circular or ‘ecological’ metabolism.