Designing for the expected and unexpected

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The Lloyd’s Register Foundation has launched its Foresight review of resilience engineering. Resilience describes how systems withstand, respond and adapt to disruptive events. These events can be short term shocks like storms, earthquakes and conflicts, or can be more predictable and longer term.

The foresight review explores how resilience engineering could enhance the safety of life and property through the improved resilience of engineered structures, systems, organisations and communities around the world. Building on the findings of this review, the Foundation will identify aspects of resilience engineering to focus its research and grant giving to make a positive impact. It will issue an international call for expressions of interest to establish a programme to build the resilience of critical infrastructure sectors.

Professor Michael Bruno, Dean of Schaefer School of Engineering and Science at Stevens Institute of Technology authored the review, building on inputs from experts from five continents and across many industrial sectors and academic disciplines. He said: “We have only to examine recent events such as Hurricane Sandy in the New York area to understand the complexity of the challenges that lie ahead. Cascading failures in the transportation, healthcare and energy sectors during that event demonstrated the need to develop trans-disciplinary solution pathways that can ultimately enable ‘resiliency by design’.”

The foresight review recommends that the Foundation brings a substantial societal benefit by building the resilience of critical infrastructure sectors.

Society depends on the proper functioning of essential services such as food and water, energy, transportation, telecommunications, the built environment and healthcare. These sectors are increasingly complex and interdependent, acting at a global scale, and making them susceptible to catastrophic and cascading failure under stress.

The foresight review recommends that the Foundation can build resilience, for example, through a programme addressing: governance, capacity building and engagement, data and supporting tools and international and global scale networks

This foresight review is the fourth in a series from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation; the Foresight review of big data, launched in December 2014, led to a £10million research grant for the Turing Institute over five years, and the Foresight review of nanotechnology, published in April 2014 resulted in awarded grants totalling £9million to three international consortia in the field of nanotechnology. Recently, the Foundation also launched the Foresight review of structural integrity and systems performance.