Published On: December 17, 2020

The recent joint Royal Academy of Engineering and National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) roundtable event was convened to discuss the resilience of national economic infrastructure. This infrastructure covers, for example, power, water, transport and digital communications, and the roundtable opened the doors to a much wider range of conversations about infrastructure resilience than had previously occurred. As Chairman what I found really stimulating was the openness of debate about not only engineering issues but those to do with economics, society at large, the environment and indeed the well-being of individuals.

The recommendations produced by the NIC to set clear resilience standards, carry out regular stress testing, and create long-term strategies, are interdependent. They all contain the word “regulation”. Regulators in the infrastructure services industry determine, as it were, the rules of the game that suppliers and consumers, whether they be private citizens or industry, must comply with. Regulators are the creature of Parliament, not the administration of the day, and hence have obligations and duties that are framed in the long-term. This was recognised in the report that I co-authored in 2009 for the Prime Minister’s Council of Science and Technology (CST) from which the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) was created. The latest workplan of UKRN contains evidence of increased collaboration between regulators but little evidence of collaboration towards improving resilience. This is an area I think the Academy can follow up on with UKRN.

Read more at The Royal Academy of Engineering

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