Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research

Radical Transformation to Resilient Infrastructure

Radical Transformation to Resilient Infrastructure

Radical transformation towards resilient infrastructure.

Project Leads

The challenge

Integrated infrastructure systems offer opportunities to develop more sustainable and resilient systems of essential service provision. These include water, power, waste, transport and communications.

Such utilities are currently managed and regulated in silos. The focus is on on failure monitoring and infrastructure optimisation of individual systems.

Shocks to infrastructure systems can be caused by external events such as natural disasters or climatic events. These can be heavy and potentially fatal disturbances.

They can also be moments in which the social and technological relations within the system become visible. They can open windows for system transformation.

The SHOCK project is funded by EPSRC through grant (EP/J005657/1).  More information is on the SHOCK project website.

Shock (not) horror project

The aims are:

  1. To devise new and transformative ways of thinking about infrastructure.
  2. To challenge the current organization of infrastructure in silos.
  3. To rethink the nature of shocks and explore their potential for radical change.
  4. To challenge infrastructure stakeholders to break from conventional thinking and embrace shock allegories from other fields, such as medical trauma.


Working closely with stakeholders representing a range of infrastructure systems, the project will:

  1. Construct storylines of infrastructure shocks and analogies of medical trauma through literature reviews and interviews.
  2. Investigate and interrogate models of socio-technical configuration in infrastructure systems and critical intervention points and expose them to feedback from stakeholders.
  3. Conduct experiments to evaluate capacity to maximise learning from infrastructure shocks among infrastructure managers.

Next steps

We will define infrastructure intervention points in relation to the maps. This will be based on the maps of socio-technical configuration of infrastructure systems (water, energy, transport, IT) constructed by stakeholders.

Comprehensive case study of summer 2007 floods, including interviews with those involved.

Compare and contrast findings from medical interviews and summer 2007 case study to identify analogies.

Develop a framework to maximise learning from infrastructure system shocks.