This content was originally published on The Resilience Shift website. The Resilience Shift, a 5-year programme supported by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and hosted by Arup, transitioned at the end of 2021 to become Resilience Rising. You can read more about The Resilience Shift’s journey and the transition to Resilience Rising here.

The Resilience Shift is constantly trying to learn from those at the forefront of thinking related to resilience, which is why I  recently went to the Imperial College London Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation Industry Showcase event, on 7 September 2018.

(c) Imperial College - Campus Shots R1 - 20 - 08 -2013
(c) Imperial College

The theme was “Infrastructure interdependencies in London – how to overcome complexity to drive productivity and enable sustainable urban growth?”.

Dr David Hancock from Infrastructure Projects Authority spoke about transforming construction and made an interesting comparison between change and transformation which resonated with the Resilience Shift way of thinking. He pointed out that change is incremental and fixes the past, whereas transformation is radical and creates the future. It is this radical transformation that is required to shift resilience from theory to practice.

A series of burst presentations gave a flavour of the research carried out at the Centre, ranging from research on emergency evacuation operations management in large, complex public occupancy buildings (Georgia Bateman) to systems engineering applications for water management (Dr Ana Mijic).

A second keynote came from Dame Judith Hackitt, who is the author of the landmark “Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety”. She gave an overview of her report and some key insights including the fact that no one has been looking at the regulations for high rise buildings as a system therefore there was no understanding of conflicts in the system or where the weaknesses and gaps were. Other industries, such as chemical engineering, have been using systems approaches for many years and if this knowledge is shared across disciplines change can be accelerated.

Finally, Dame Hackitt was joined on a panel by a variety of speakers from across construction industry in London including Mark Farmer (Cast Consultancy), Jaimie Johnston (Bryden Wood), Adam Locke (Laing O’Rourke) and Peter Vale (Tideway). They discussed how to simplify processes to cope with infrastructure interdependencies an in this positive discussion many solutions were put forward.

Most importantly, as echoed throughout the day, the common theme was of the need to get people out of their silos and working together.

With thanks to the team at Imperial for an inspiring day.

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