• Featured

Resilience to extreme events – Hawai’i’s response to the Kilauea eruption

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When a volcano erupts, constant communication between leading scientists and emergency responders and planners is absolutely essential. Guest blogger, Michael S. Bruno, from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, shares his thoughts on the response of Hawai‘i in terms of resilience to the current events.

O’ahu is far enough away from the Big Island that we have been relatively unaffected with just some smoke when the wind shifts from that direction. The residents of the region around the volcano however are going through a very difficult time. For our university’s campus in Hilo (close to the volcano), this is a very nervous time as students are in the midst of final exams, and many of them and their families live in the vicinity of the volcano.

Our faculty is very active in the response to the eruption. Our research program in this domain of science is one of the best in the world and the State of Hawaii’s State Volcanologist is one of our senior faculty, Professor Bruce Houghton.

Professor Houghton and his research team have been on the volcano since the very early stages of the eruption, and they monitored the underground lava flows that eventually led to the fissures and damaging lava flows many km from the volcano summit. They are still there today, trying to ascertain the volcano’s next move. For the latest news from local sources see Hawaii News Now, or Vox.

In addition to our volcano experts, we have teams of meteorologists and atmospheric modellers working closely with Federal and State of Hawaii officials to predict the possible movement of dangerous sulphur dioxide gases from the eruption. The movement can change dramatically with the frequent wind shifts we see in the area, and so the danger to surrounding communities can elevate over a timespan of only minutes.

This is certainly a time when the constant communication between teams of leading scientists and emergency responders and planners is absolutely essential.

When I arrived at the University of Hawaii I was struck by the very close relationship between the university and the State. This event is demonstrating the value of the trusted relationship that has developed over years of working together. It has resulted in a well-informed response to the event, including advance evacuations from the community before the roads became impassable, and ongoing, real-time planning for further action should the conditions change or worsen.

Michael is on the Resilience Shift Board as well as being the University of Hawai‘i’s Vice Chancellor for Research, and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Images below show shots Michael took of the volcano last year. Featured image is copyright National Parks Service Hawai’i  (nps.gov) and shows surface flows on the coastal plain.

Categories: Featured News

The engineer’s journey to resilience – what’s yours?

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Xavi Aldea

How has resilience become a popular topic among engineers from different backgrounds? In our experience, engineers have followed different routes in their journey to resilience. Mostly, this is about broadening classic engineering approaches, breaking down ‘silo’ thinking and incorporating a connection with other disciplines – which, in many cases, are not necessarily close to engineering at first sight. In other words, engineers have had to think bigger in order to achieve their goals.

But what are the engineers’ goals? To put it simply, and according to the Royal Academy of Engineering, engineers ‘make things, they make things work and they make things work better’. They also ‘use their creativity to design solutions to the world’s problems’. In today’s world, the inherent complexity of infrastructure and urban systems, together with the added uncertainty arising, for instance, from climate change, raises a question on the classic boundaries of engineering, which are not enough to allow engineers to ‘make things work better’.

Breaking those boundaries, however, requires initiating a journey which can be quite different depending on the engineering experience and discipline that different people come from.

This journey begins in the top left of this diagram. This is what engineers have been taught in university – technology and safety.

Through their careers, engineers can travel through different paths which ultimately make them realise that resilience matters.

Path A:

A Civil Engineer who designs infrastructure and/or does quantified risk assessments. They become interested in resilience once they recognise future uncertainty and the limitations of sensitivity analysis/scenario modelling. In addition, they become aware of interdependencies between different systems, which adds more complexity to their usual risk assessments. Additional complexity can also be added because they realise infrastructure is part of a wider system, which includes people.  In our team, that would be Juliet Mian.

Path B:

A Civil or Structural Engineer who designs and/or plans infrastructure. They have already embraced Environmental Impact Assessments and Social Impact Assessments, and are comfortable with the role of engineering in sustainable development. In the next step, they also recognise people as part of the system, and understand the importance of equity in addressing global challenges. This means that they are already thinking in a holistic, integrated way, and they recognise that resilience is the way to approach this complex system. Because of their sustainability background, they are well aware of uncertainty resulting from climate change and planetary boundaries.   In our team, that would be Jo da Silva.

Path C:

Sustainability engineer who assesses the environmental impact of infrastructure by understanding how it connects with its surrounding environment. They have already embraced carbon footprint, water footprint, Life Cycle Assessment and/or Social Life Cycle Assessment and are comfortable with the role of engineering in sustainable development. In addition, they are also aware of the uncertainty resulting from climate change and planetary boundaries. The next step is adding the complexity of the 21st century infrastructure, which requires thinking in a holistic and integrated way, and recognising that resilience is a way to approach complex systems. In our team, that would be Xavier Aldea.

As long as you get there in the end…

In the end, we can probably say that all roads lead to Rome – incorporating complexity, uncertainty, vulnerability and essentially challenges and global change drivers of the 21st century leads to the need to expand classic engineering boundaries to allow engineers to continue to do their job, no matter where they started – and hopefully that will allow them to continue to make the world a better place.

What’s your journey?  Why not draw it and send it to us as an image so that we can see your path to resilience?

Categories: Featured

Turning theory into practice to kick off 2018

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For us, 2018 is about making things happen. With exciting developments happening in our projects, we are reaching out through workshops and events to work with collaborators across the globe. We are seeking additional partners to develop proposals with through our current call for applications with more to come later this year.

Categories: Featured News

‘Almost dangerous’: let’s collaborate!

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This post discusses the potential barriers to collaboration across infrastructure sectors.

Categories: Featured

Language: let’s talk some more

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The language of resilience may be getting in the way of efforts to work together. This post explores the potential issues.

Categories: Featured

Infrastructure resilience: where do we start?

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In setting out an ambitious programme to catalyse change in terms of how resilient critical infrastructure is planned, procured, delivered and maintained in practice – how do we know where to start, and what we really need to do?

Categories: Events Featured

Welcome Blog

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Hello and thank you for visiting us at the Resilience Shift. This is our first blog post.

We are a small team of resilience “veterans” – if you can call those with experience in a field that is only a decade or so old “veteran”. We are dedicated to catalyzing a shift in how designers and engineers, asset owners and operators, insurers, investors and regulators play their role in creating a more resilient future.

Categories: Featured News