Designing for the expected and unexpected: launch of Foresight review of resilience engineering

Freiburg, Germany – Today we are launching our Foresight review of resilience engineering.

Download: 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. What causes some businesses to survive change where others do not? Why do some countries and cities thrive under change whilst others struggle? How do some engineered structures and systems withstand adverse conditions whilst others collapse catastrophically? The answers lie in the consideration of resilience.

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 distinctive positive impact. It will issue an international call for expressions of interest to establish a programme to build the resilience of critical infrastructure sectors.

Prof Richard Clegg, Managing Director of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation said: “The Foundation is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in an international effort to better understand, communicate and improve resilience towards safety of life and property. We will be investing in resilience engineering, with the aims of maximising benefit to society while also leveraging, and not duplicating, activities underway elsewhere.”

Prof 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 Foundation has chosen to launch this report in Germany at the Sustainability Summit hosted by Fraunhofer and the University of Freiburg. Fraunhofer is one of the world’s leading organisations in developing innovative engineering solutions. Together with the renowned University of Freiburg, the five Fraunhofer-Institutes located in Freiburg joined forces and built the Sustainability Center Freiburg. Within the Center they develop applicable solutions for the great challenges of our time – among them the question of how our societies can become more resilient towards expected and unexpected disruptions. 

Prof Stefan Hiermaier from Fraunhofer said: “Resilience is a key component of sustainable development. At our Sustainability Center we develop technological solutions that help systems to preserve their critical functionality, ensure graceful degradation and enable fast recovery in the face of disruptive events. This is our understanding of resilience engineering.”

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 Foundation can build resilience, for example, through a programme addressing:

  • governance: incentives, standards and rules
  • capacity building and engagement: professional development, publications, communication and public engagement
  • data and supporting tools: shared datasets, modelling and simulation, decision support
  • international and global scale networks: studies of global systems, supply chains, knowledge networks.

Foresight review series 
This foresight review is the fourth in our series; the Foresight review of big data, launched in December 2014, led to a £10 million research grant for the Turing Institute over five years, and the Foresight review of nanotechnology, published in April 2014 resulted in awarded grants totalling £9 million to three international consortia in the field of nanotechnology. Earlier this month we launched the Foresight review of structural integrity and systems performance in Singapore. 

Download: Foresight review of resilience engineering

About the Sustainability Summit
The Sustainability Summit is being hosted by the Sustainability Center Freiburg. The conference is aimed at internationally renowned scholars, business experts and distinguished sustainability leaders. They are able to discuss some of the major challenges of our time there, among them: How can technology and engineering become a driving force in sustainability? How can research contribute more directly to the grand challenges such as the transformation of the energy systems? What can we learn from nature to solve human-made problems? How do we manage to limit climate change and at the same time adapt to its consequences? These questions will be discussed in four thematic sessions: ecological and societal transformation, sustainable materials, resilience engineering and energy systems. 

The Sustainability Center is a co-operation between the five Fraunhofer Institutes located in Freiburg, the University of Freiburg, sustainability-oriented companies and important societal actors. Together they perform research activities, create sustainable innovations, install new teaching opportunities for students, organise workshops for experts, and host conferences such as the Sustainability Summit.

Website: www.sustainability-summit.de

About the Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for 145 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,800 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 380 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centres of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense, maritime security, STEM education and coastal sustainability. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact. 

Website: www.stevens.edu

For media enquiries contact  

Mark Stokes
Group Communications Director
Lloyd’s Register Group Services Limited
T +44 (0)20 7423 1725
E mark.stokes@lr.org

For grant enquiries contact

Ruth Boumphrey
Head of Research Grants, Lloyd’s Register Foundation
E ruth.boumphrey@lrfoundation.org.uk
T +44 (0)20 7423 2963