Rethinking infrastructure and cities for a Covid-19 world: A UKCRIC prospectus
UKCRIC sets out its approach to managing the impacts of the pandemic as it relates to infrastructure and cities research
UKCRIC is establishing world-leading research capabilities with the ambition to transform our infrastructure and city systems, making them more sustainable, resilient, liveable, adaptable and smart.
A range of insights, processes and tools are available to help those responsible for designing, constructing, operating and refining our infrastructure and city systems to make better informed decisions. Any such decision should be founded on a strong evidence base, which is what EPSRC, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI, which covers all UK Research Councils) and other research funders aim to establish. However, it is clear that evidence alone is not enough to bring about change.
UKCRIC has therefore compiled some guidance in the form of a series of steps that draw on the evidence base to enable significant infrastructure changes to be properly developed. A vital step is to identify the complete range of potential benefits that could be delivered by adopting alternative engineering approaches, while taking into account a full understanding of the context in which the intervention is to be made. Only then can an adequate case for change be made.
However, change can only be brought about by compiling a business model – or rather a number of alternative business models – that balance all of the positive consequences (economic, social, environmental, political) with all of the negative consequences (which includes the financial investment required), both now and reaching into the future. A civil engineering intervention might be expected to function for decades, so its efficacy in the far future needs to be assessed. Finally, the formal and informal rules of governance, ranging from legislation and regulation through to societal attitudes and behaviours, need to be explored and, where necessary, changes must be made to ensure that the business models deliver the desired outcomes.
The key points are summarised below, and full guidance document, including references to all relevant research, can be downloaded here.
This guidance is underpinned by UKCRIC’s ambition to change the way in which infrastructure and cities research is approached in the UK and move from competition to collaboration. The guidance hints at this in its first statement of bringing all perspectives together at the very start of the process. UKCRIC recognises that the expertise required for an infrastructure or city system intervention – whether creating new infrastructure, implementing a new operational practice, developing a new policy or refining an existing system – usually lies in different institutions and organisations and across different disciplines and sectors. The only way to progress effectively, therefore, is to collaborate across these institutions, organisations, disciplines and sectors. While this evidently requires us to assemble appropriate multi-disciplinary teams, to collaborate effectively we need to know how to work across the domains and for this we need to establish transdisciplinary practices. This is another aspect of UKCRIC’s pioneering work, see Why Research Integration Matters.
For more information or to find out how UKCRIC could help your infrastructure challenge, please contact us.
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