National Infrastructure Commission finds gaps in infrastructure resilience study

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has launched a call for evidence in a bid to address gaps in understanding of the resilience of complex infrastructure systems.

In the scoping report for its Resilience Study, it found that it was difficult to find examples of holistic and cross-sector approaches to resilience, while there are a number of cross cutting resilience challenges that would require significant changes to the current approach in order to be addressed. The NIC explained that with the increasing interdependency of the UK’s transport, energy, digital and water infrastructure, a new approach was required to sustain them and minimise impacts when they fail.

These gaps will be the NIC’s focus as it goes forwards, with it launching a call for evidence on three key areas: system-wide thinking – looking into what makes UK infrastructure vulnerable to shocks and future changes, and how they can be addressed; public perspectives – how the public’s expectations of infrastructure services considered within decisions about resilience; and governance and management – what changes are required at system level to ensure separate systems can operate effectively as a whole. Data, insights and analysis are invited from government, regulators, operators and suppliers until 20 October 2019. The evidence gathered will inform the NIC’s final report, set for release in Spring 2020.

Sir John Armitt, the Commission’s Chairman, said: “Planning for failure and disruption is common practice. But our infrastructure networks are increasingly inter-connected and dependent upon the performance of services outside their control, especially power and digital connectivity: that’s a major vulnerability we need to understand and deal with properly. We will need to rethink how we operate, design and manage our infrastructure to ensure it is fit for long-term challenges we face.”