IDEAS Factory - Resilient Futures

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Electronics and Computer Science

Abstract

What will the UK's critical infrastructure look like in 2030? In 2050? How resilient will it be? Decisions taken now by policy makers, NGOs, industrialists, and user communities will influence the answers to these questions. How can this decision making be best informed by considerations of infrastructural resilience? This project will consider future developments in the UK's energy and transport infrastructure and the resilience of these systems to natural and malicious threats and hazards, delivering a) fresh perspectives on how the inter-relations amongst our critical infrastructure sectors impact on current and future UK resilience, b) a state-of-the-art integrated social science/engineering methodology that can be generalised to address different sectors and scenarios, and c) an interactive demonstrator simulation that operationalises the otherwise nebulous concept of resilience for a wide range of decision makers and stakeholders.Current reports from the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Council for Science and Technology, and the Cabinet Office are united in their assessment that achieving and sustaining resilience is the key challenge facing the UK's critical infrastructure. They are also unanimous in their assessment of the main issues. First, there is agreement on the main threats to national infrastructure: i) climate change; ii) terrorist attacks; iii) systemic failure. Second, the complex, disparate and interconnected nature of the UK's infrastructure systems is highlighted as a key concern by all. Our critical infrastructure is highly fragmented both in terms of its governance and in terms of the number of agencies charged with achieving and maintaining resilience, which range from national government to local services and even community groups such as local resilience forums. Moreover, the cross-sector interactions amongst different technological systems within the national critical infrastructure are not well understood, with key inter-dependencies potentially overlooked. Initiatives such as the Cabinet Office's new Natural Hazards Team are working to address this. The establishment of such bodies with responsibility for oversight and improving joined up resilience is a key recommendation in all four reports. However, such bodies currently lack two critical resources: (1) a full understanding of the resilience implications of our current and future infrastructural organisation; and (2) vehicles for effectively conveying this understanding to the full range of relevant stakeholders for whom the term resilience is currently difficult to understand in anything other than an abstract sense. The Resilient Futures project will engage directly with this context by working with relevant stakeholders from many sectors and governance levels to achieve a step change in both (1) and (2). To achieve this, we will focus on future rather than present UK infrastructure. This is for a two reasons. First, we intend to engender a paradigm shift in resilience thinking - from a fragmented short-termism that encourages agencies to focus on protecting their own current assets from presently perceived threats to a longer-term inter-dependent perspective recognising that the nature of both disruptive events and the systems that are disrupted is constantly evolving and that our efforts towards achieving resilience now must not compromise our future resilience. Second, focussing on a 2030/2050 time-frame lifts discussion out of the politically charged here and now to a context in which there is more room for discussion, learning and organisational change. A focus on *current resilience* must overcome a natural tendency for the agencies involved to defend their current processes and practices, explain their past record of disruption management, etc., before the conversation can move to engaging with potential for improvement, learning and change.

Planned Impact

We will make use of traditional academic channels of research publication and conference presentation, but also wider and more direct engagement with practitioner communities. We will target high-impact general journals as well as high-profile interdisciplinary journals and more domain-specific journals. We will also continue to target high-profile international conferences where we will seek to convene special sessions dedicated to the project's area. We will also seek opportunities to publish articles in journals, magazines and newsletters aimed at the practitioner community, exploiting our stakeholder contacts to identify the most appropriate vehicles. Additional mechanisms will also be deployed to reach those likely to benefit from the project's outcomes. The first stage will be to engage with the substantive networks of professionals cultivated during the project. Whilst this will enable an initial targeted dissemination of the findings, the next stage will employ snowball-sampling techniques to identify additional relevant actors and agencies. Once identified these actors will be engaged via face-to-face meetings, invitations to Events, and eventually dissemination of briefing reports summarizing the project's findings in professionally designed high-impact executive summaries. The project team will also aim to reach the wider resilience community via targeted presentations to regional and local resilience forums, and engagement with print, broadcast and on-line media, drawing on the team's existing connections, and those of our key stakeholders. A website will be established and maintained to disseminate research findings and software, advertise events, and mediate intra-project collaboration. As mentioned above, our findings will be made accessible to non-technical audiences through summaries and briefing papers. We will develop a standard format for these, and funds are requested for initial graphic design work on the template design. While the majority of the materials will be produced by the research team themselves, where appropriate we will employ the services of professional copywriters to ensure that complex technical information is communicated in the most accessible way. We will produce a number of short articles for a range of media, for example New Scientist. PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and academics will be supported through appropriate training in writing for a non-technical audience and dealing with the media. The summaries and briefings will be produced in both print and electronic format; print media remains a key way to access the policy community despite the rapid development of the Internet. In addition to the passive production of documents, we will actively work with our Stakeholder Forum to identify how our results can be assimilated into end user organisations. In addition to the intellectual output of the project, its most tangible legacy takes the form of a user-ready interactive demonstrator system that will be freely available for agencies to use as a training tool. In collaboration with our stakeholders, we will explore the potential for developing training simulations for specific user contexts (e.g., educating the public or asset managers about infrastructure resilience, or simply raising the profile of resilience issues), and the possibility of generalizing our work to adjacent sectors (e.g., resilience of social care and health care services during extreme weather events). We expect the project's impact to continue beyond the end of the funded period in the form of subsequent research and development efforts both within academia, in the private sector and in the form of partnership activities that bring together, e.g., multiple government agencies to explore infrastructure resilience in specific contexts not considered by the R-Futures project.

Publications


10 25 50
 
Description What will the UK's critical infrastructure look like in 2030? In 2050? How resilient will it be? Decisions taken now by policy makers, NGOs, industrialists, and user communities will influence the answers to these questions. How can this decision making be best informed by considerations of infrastructural resilience?

Current reports from the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Council for Science and Technology, and the Cabinet Office are united in their assessment that achieving and sustaining resilience is the key challenge facing the UK's critical infrastructure. They are also unanimous in their assessment of three main issues: the threats to infrastructures, the disparate and interconnected nature of the system, and the inherent limits to the present analysis.

The main threats to national infrastructure can be identified as extreme weather events, terrorist attacks, or systemic failures.

- Extreme weather can cause extensive damages to infrastructures. These damages might result from various phenomena such as floods, storms, icy conditions and other disturbances resulting from climate change. Solar flares are also another potential major threat for energy networks.

- Man-made threats to infrastructure are to be taken seriously especially in the context of centralised networks and reliance on nuclear energy.

- From the dependence on an energy source available in limited supply such as hydrocarbons to a possible financial crisis, many systemic failures can damage transport and energy networks.

The complex, disparate and interconnected nature of the UK's infrastructure systems is highlighted as a key concern by all. Our critical infrastructure is highly fragmented both in terms of its governance and in terms of the number of agencies charged with achieving and maintaining resilience, which range from national government to local services and even community groups such as local resilience forums. Moreover, the cross-sector interactions amongst different technological systems within the national critical infrastructure are not well understood, with key inter-dependencies potentially overlooked.

Initiatives such as the Cabinet Office's new Natural Hazards Team are working to address this. The establishment of such bodies with responsibility for oversight and improving joined up resilience is a key recommendation in all four reports. However, such bodies currently lack two critical resources:

(1) a full understanding of the resilience implications of our current and future infrastructural organisation; and

(2) vehicles for effectively conveying this understanding to the full range of relevant stakeholders for whom the term resilience is currently difficult to understand in anything other than an abstract sense.

This project considered future developments in the UK's energy and transport infrastructure and the resilience of these systems to natural and malicious threats and hazards, delivering

A) Fresh perspectives on how the inter-relations amongst our critical infrastructure sectors impact on current and future UK resilience in the form of a set of Infrastructure Future Scenarios,

B) A state-of-the-art integrated social science/engineering methodology that can be generalised to address different sectors and scenarios, and

C) An interactive demonstrator simulation that operationalises the otherwise nebulous concept of resilience for a wide range of decision makers and stakeholders.

The Resilient Futures project achieved a step change in both (1) and (2).
Exploitation Route The Resilient Futures project was undertaken by researchers from different disciplines in close collaboration with a group of stakeholder partners who are at the coalface of infrastructure resilience issues.
Agencies involved cover a range of sectors and levels: central government (the Cabinet Office's Civil Contingencies Secretariat, the Health Protection Agency); emergency services (Ambulance, Red Cross, Fire and Rescue Service, British Transport Police); specialist security and terrorism mitigation (CPNI); asset holders/service providers (BT, Transport for London); engineering and the built-environment (Costain, Institute of Civil Engineers, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Arup); local authorities and regional policy-forums (London Borough of Hackney, Tamworth Borough Council, Staffordshire Civil Contingencies Unit); community and third-sector agencies (National Youth Agency); and those engaged in futures and scenario work (SigmaScan developers).
Each of these agencies (and many others) stand to benefit from the increased sophistication of their thinking on resilience brought about by the R-Futures project, for example through the use of the open access R-Futures Infrastructure Futures Scenarios. More specifically, such agencies can now follow the R-Futures methodology in order to develop bespoke simulation platforms, such as the one created and trialled within the R-Futures project, that can be used to interrogate organisational understanding and preparedness in specific resilience contexts.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Transport,Other
URL http://r-futures.ecs.soton.ac.uk/
 
Description What will the UK's critical infrastructure look like in 2030? In 2050? How resilient will it be? Decisions taken now by policy makers, NGOs, industrialists, and user communities will influence the answers to these questions. How can this decision making be best informed by considerations of infrastructural resilience? Current reports from the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Council for Science and Technology, and the Cabinet Office are united in their assessment that achieving and sustaining resilience is the key challenge facing the UK's critical infrastructure. They are also unanimous in their assessment of three main issues: the threats to infrastructures, the disparate and interconnected nature of the system, and the inherent limits to the present analysis. Threats to the national infrastructure: The main threats to national infrastructure can be identified as extreme weather events, terrorist attacks, or systemic failures. 1. Extreme weather Extreme weather can cause extensive damages to infrastructures. These damages might result from various phenomena such as floods, storms, icy conditions and other disturbances resulting from climate change. Solar flares are also another potential major threat for energy networks. 2. Terrorist attacks Man-made threats to infrastructure are to be taken seriously especially in the context of centralised networks and reliance on nuclear energy. 3. Systemic failures From the dependence on an energy source available in limited supply such as hydrocarbons to a possible financial crisis, many systemic failures can damage transport and energy networks. Disparate and interconnected nature of the UK's infrastructure systems The complex, disparate and interconnected nature of the UK's infrastructure systems is highlighted as a key concern by all. Our critical infrastructure is highly fragmented both in terms of its governance and in terms of the number of agencies charged with achieving and maintaining resilience, which range from national government to local services and even community groups such as local resilience forums. Moreover, the cross-sector interactions amongst different technological systems within the national critical infrastructure are not well understood, with key inter-dependencies potentially overlooked. Initiatives such as the Cabinet Office's new Natural Hazards Team are working to address this. The establishment of such bodies with responsibility for oversight and improving joined up resilience is a key recommendation in all four reports. However, such bodies currently lack two critical resources: (1) a full understanding of the resilience implications of our current and future infrastructural organisation; and (2) vehicles for effectively conveying this understanding to the full range of relevant stakeholders for whom the term resilience is currently difficult to understand in anything other than an abstract sense. This project will consider future developments in the UK's energy and transport infrastructure and the resilience of these systems to natural and malicious threats and hazards, delivering - fresh perspectives on how the inter-relations amongst our critical infrastructure sectors impact on current and future UK resilience, - a state-of-the-art integrated social science/engineering methodology that can be generalised to address different sectors and scenarios, and - an interactive demonstrator simulation that operationalises the otherwise nebulous concept of resilience for a wide range of decision makers and stakeholders. The Resilient Futures project will engage directly with this context by working with relevant stakeholders from many sectors and governance levels to achieve a step change in both (1) and (2). To achieve this, we will focus on future rather than present UK infrastructure. This is for a two reasons. First, we intend to engender a paradigm shift in resilience thinking - from a fragmented short-termism that encourages agencies to focus on protecting their own current assets from presently perceived threats to a longer-term inter-dependent perspective recognising that the nature of both disruptive events and the systems that are disrupted is constantly evolving and that our efforts towards achieving resilience now must not compromise our future resilience. Second, focussing on a 2030/2050 time-frame lifts discussion out of the politically charged here and now to a context in which there is more room for discussion, learning and organisational change. A focus on *current resilience* must overcome a natural tendency for the agencies involved to defend their current processes and practices, explain their past record of disruption management, etc., before the conversation can move to engaging with potential for improvement, learning and change. Participants The Resilient Futures project will be conducted by researchers from different discplines in close collaboration with a group of stakeholder partners who are at the coalface of infrastructure resilience issues. Agencies involved cover a range of sectors and levels: central government (the Cabinet Office's Civil Contingencies Secretariat, the Health Protection Agency); emergency services (Ambulance, Red Cross, Fire and Rescue Service, British Transport Police); specialist security and terrorism mitigation (CPNI); asset holders/service providers ( BT, Transport for London); engineering and the built-environment (Costain, Institute of Civil Engineers, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Arup); local authorities and regional policy-forums (London Borough of Hackney, Tamworth Borough Council, Staffordshire Civil Contingencies Unit); community and third-sector agencies (National Youth Agency); and those engaged in futures and scenario work (SigmaScan developers). We anticipate that an increasing number of agencies (esp. local resilience forums) will join this open forum over the duration of the project.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Transport,Other
Impact Types Policy & public services
 
Title R-Futures Scenarios 
Description The R-Futures Infrastructure Futures Scenarios 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The R-Futures Infrastructure Futures Scenarios have informed the development of the first UK Infrastructure Resilience Simulation Demonstrator. 
URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328713000530
 
Title R-Futures Demonstrator 
Description The R-Futures Demonstrator is a proof of concept simulation model of a cross-sector infrastructure resilience scenario that could be tailored to reflect different possible infrastructure futures. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The Demonstrator was presented to 100+ stakeholders at the R-Futures Royal Society event in 2014. 
 
Description Briefing UK Govt. (R-Futures) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact The R-Futures PI was asked to brief the UK Govt.s Natural Hazards Partnership Steering Group at the Cabinet Office.

Led to increased engagement with stakeholders in subsequent R-Futures acvtivity and influenced thinking of a significant decision making body within UK Govt.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
 
Description Royal Society Meeting (R-Futures) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The R-Futures project ran a large one-day workshop at the Royal Society for >100 Infrastructure Stakeholders from across multiple sectors and multiple infrastructure types. The meeting presented R-Futures research output and exposed stakeholders to hands-on interaction with R-Futures Infrastructure Scenarios and the R-Futures Demonstrator.

The meeting brought a significant section of the fragmented community responsible for the resilience of UK infrastructure together for the first time and brought them up to speed on cutting edge resilience thinking. It gave them first hand experience of a novel simulation tool capable of improving their strategic and operational thinking around resilience issues and gave them insight into how resilience challenges cut across disciplines, sectors and organisational functions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://r-futures.ecs.soton.ac.uk/events/
 
Description Stakeholder Engagement (R-Futures) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Regular meetings with R-Future "Core Stakeholder Group": 6-8 key strategic thinkers from national organisations

Meetings influenced R-Futures project direction.

Meetings influenced Stakeholder thinking on resilience.

CSG Meetings led to large Royal Society Engagement meeting in early 2014. Also led to opportunities to engage with individual organisations through vists, talks, etc. (e.g., National Grid, etc.)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014
 
Description Stakeholder Focus Groups (R-Futures) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A series of stakeholder focus groups organised around the R-Futures Infrastructure Scenarios, used to elicit expert attitudes to infrastructure resilience and to encourage more systematic appreciated of the issues that cut across infrastructure resilience challenges.

Influence on thinking in stakeholder organisations, opportunities for further interaction and collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013