Expert Voices: Michael Stevns, Infrastructure & Cities Sector, Siemens

C40 Partners Siemens & Arup Launch ‘Toolkit for Resilient Cities’, a new report conducted with the Regional Plan Association, setting forth actionable agenda for cities

Cities are potentially the most resilient of all human creations, yet modern cities and their reliance on technologies have demonstrated our weaknesses in the face of increasingly extreme weather events. The combining trends of urbanisation and climate change have moved the topic of resilience to the forefront of climate change discussions. According to the United Nations, natural disasters between 2000 and 2012 are estimated to have caused $1.7 trillion globally in damages.

Toolkit for Resilient Cities, launched on the 24th of September by Siemens, Arup and the Regional Plan Association, an urban research and advocacy organization, explores how the resilience of critical urban infrastructure systems might be enhanced to prepare cities more effectively for major weather-related hazards; and looks at what the potential co-benefits of these actions could be, including increased energy efficiency, reliability, and improved air quality.

Toolkit For Resilient Cities

The report considers proven technology solutions applicable to both emerging and established cities. It also evaluates the enabling actions required from policy makers, utility providers and other city stakeholders to facilitate delivery of these technologies.

The creation of resilient infrastructure systems may require large-scale changes to the way infrastructure is planned, designed, managed and maintained. The technologies supporting resilient energy, transportation, water and building systems share common attributes and are largely underpinned by advanced IT and communication services. The three main actionable areas are:

1) Increasing the robustness of new and existing infrastructure

Infrastructure networks, like energy, water and transportation must incorporate components that will continue to function in an ever-changing environment. At the network level, utility managers may consider optimizing the location of new or redeveloped infrastructure to reduce exposure to hazards, including undergrounding or elevation of essential equipment.

2) Stimulating decentralized resource supplies and distribution networks

Energy, transportation and water infrastructure can be designed to operate both as part of a large system and to serve a more localized community independently of the wider network.

3) Enhanced monitoring and controls

System monitoring and control underpinned by increased application of IT networks and IT-enabled equipment (such as field devices and sensors), either embedded in new infrastructure or retrofitted into existing assets. Improved monitoring and control capabilities for infrastructure can enhance resilience by providing detailed and rapid information to utility managers and city leaders regarding operating conditions and performance.

In the report, we also undertook a high-level review of the vulnerabilities in the New York City electrical grid and the steps that could be taken to mitigate risk. From the analysis of the threats to the grid, we developed a range of investment options and undertook a business case analysis. In the best scenario, the financial value of the investments may reach $4 billion over a 20 year period; whereas a do-nothing scenario would cost the city up to $3 billion over the same period of time.

Read the full report to see what is needed to make our cities more resilient.