Infrastructure and Services

Cities and the peri-urban areas that support them require high levels of infrastructure to deliver essential services. [ISET] As development levels increase these infrastructure systems become primary means of provisioning for many community members, providing benefits in terms of economies of scale and ease of access but also creating at the same dependencies and new vulnerabilities.

Infrastructure is comprised not just of physical assets but also networks and supply chains, and the links between between infrastruture components can be often spread across regions and far beyond municipal boundaries. Water system users in a city are  ultimately depending on the flow of water into upstream reservoirs and the collection of rainwater in the watersheds beyond, which funnel water into the reservoir. Lack of precipitation in the water shed, contaminiation in the reservoir, disruption of the water lines from the reservoir to the city — any of these incidents can interrupt the flow of water services to end users. To address these threats, resilient infrastructure systems are needed that assess and mitigate vulnerability to individual components, build up redundancy in parallel systems, and enable community coping.

Workplace

To protect infrastructure services, private sector owners and operators should commit to basic resilience principles, including:

  • Portfolio analysis to identify vulnerable facilities and assets
  • Risk-sensitive approaches to site selection and facility design
  • Compliance with building codes and standards and use of hazard-resilient construction techniques
  • Development of retrofitting programs to address existing vulnerabilities
  • Assessment of customer dependencies to ensure that system design does not exacerbate customer vulnerabilities
  • System design to promote robustness through flexibility, redundancy, and safe failure.
  • Training of employees to design, monitor and supervise hazard-resilient operation and maintenance practices

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Local and National Government

Public sector owners and operators must also commit to basic resilience principles, including:

  • Portfolio analysis to identify vulnerable facilities and assets
  • Risk-sensitive approaches to site selection and facility design
  • Compliance with building codes and standards and use of hazard-resilient construction techniques
  • Development of retrofitting programs to address existing vulnerabilities
  • Assessment of customer dependencies to ensure that system design does not exacerbate customer vulnerabilities
  • System design to promote robustness through flexibility, redundancy, and safe failure.
  • Training of employees to design, monitor and supervise hazard-resilient operation and maintenance practices

In addition local and national government play a key role in establishing the regulatory frameworks under which infrastructure services are operated. Using this regulatory power, local governments in particular can exert positive influences on private sector actors through the design review process, impact assessments, and enforcement of building codes and maintenance requirements.

There are an important subset of infrastructure systems that are essential to urban function. Failure of these core services jeopardizes the well-being of communities dependent on those services and impacts community members abilities to pursue their livelihoods, send their children to school, and enjoy. These core systems include water and food supply, energy, transport, shelter and communications.

Experience has shown that the following characteristics, in combination with one another, help to strengthen resilience in infratructure services:

  • Flexibility and diversity — to ensure that the infrastructure service has mutliple ways of operating to reduce dependcy on any single set of components.
  • Redundancy, modularity — to ensure that infrastructure services operate through multiple channels so that failure one component will not affect the flow of srvices through the entire system.
  • Safe failure — to reduce the likelihood that failure in one component causes the failure of the entire system

[Source: ISET 2012, Little 2002]