Jennifer Schooling has published a paper which describes how infrastructure should be considered a system of systems, with its main purpose being human flourishing. It is now available ahead of print online. You can read the paper here.
This paper, published in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Smart Infrastructure and Construction underlines the importance of envisioning and managing infrastructure accordingly. From the abstract: 'We have created an amazing, complex machine on which we wholly depend. Without it, our lives would be immeasurably worse. Society would not survive. That machine is infrastructure – our built environment. However, we do not appreciate the relationship between the machine and our well-being. Therefore, we do not set objectives in terms of outcomes for people and society. Furthermore, although we understand each part of the machine, we do not manage it as a whole. Therefore, we do not know how to address its systemic vulnerabilities or make it work better. If we envision, plan and manage infrastructure differently, we can make it what it should truly be: a platform for human flourishing. This paper advocates a vision for infrastructure that is, firstly, people focused – recognising the fundamental role of infrastructure in the social, economic and environmental outcomes that determine the quality of people’s lives – and, secondly, systems based – recognising infrastructure as a complex, interconnected system of systems that must deliver continuous service to society. It articulates how the industry should re-envision itself to unlock greater value for people, from the systems.'