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Posted on 10 July, 2018 by

Categories: Technologies,

Data, technology and resilience – challenge or opportunity?


Peter Sondergaard, Gartner Research, said in 2011 that “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine“.

A few years on, many people would agree with it, as we see examples everywhere– smart cities, Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, autonomous cars and, in sum, the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, which is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.

With such a big dependence on data and its analysis, will this revolution actually help critical systems to continue functioning when something unexpected happens, or when they are stressed?

This is a complex question to answer, and one which we initially addressed in our Understanding the Landscape report. We suggested that the digitization of electrical infrastructure creates real-time information, but can also expose physical infrastructure to cyberattacks. The Global Risks Report 2018 from the World Economic Forum is in agreement, as cyberattacks have been classified as the third highest global risk in terms of likelihood and the sixth in terms of impact.

The different ways in which smart infrastructure solutions can impact on the resilience of infrastructure and the people who use and operate it (after Cousins et al. 2017)

However, when smart technology is embedded everywhere, the challenge goes well beyond that. Extreme weather events and natural disasters are classified at the top of the global risks landscape, with the highest likelihood and biggest impact. Critical infrastructure, and by extension the technology embedded in it, will therefore need to be able to cope with these risks – and this is where technology should help to create resilience rather than fragility.

With such a transformative change in the way critical infrastructure will need to be designed and operated, this question remains open for the Resilience Shift.
One of the outcomes that the Resilience Shift hopes to achieve is the wider adoption of transformative technology that can enhance, rather than compromise, critical infrastructure system functionality.

We are exploring how we can contribute to understand this question through our activities. If you have ideas that can contribute to this outcome, do get in touch.

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