Last edited 03 Mar 2021

Main author

The Institution of Civil Engineers Institute / association Website

Covid 19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems



[edit] Introduction

ICE’s latest research is looking into the impacts of Covid-19 on infrastructure and what role the sector can have in helping society recover from the pandemic.

[edit] New research underway

What will the ‘new normal’ be for society in the aftermath of COVID-19 and what role will infrastructure play in that landscape as well as its long-term recovery?

Those are two of the primary questions ICE, on behalf of the Infrastructure Client Group, are seeking to answer as part of its latest research project.

[edit] Details of the programme

Led by a steering group chaired by ICE President Paul Sheffield, the project will amalgamate views and insights from across the membership, infrastructure professionals and policy experts as to how Covid-19 has already impacted society and infrastructure and what the implications of that will be if those impacts remain unaddressed.

With various socio-economic issues previously raised in ICE’s National Needs Assessment of 2016, the research is also looking to demonstrate the critical role for infrastructure in building a more sustainable Britain in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, while providing government and industry decision makers with a valuable knowledge resource for future planning.

"Everybody wants to know what the new normal looks like and with most of us now adept at video communication on a variety of platforms and attending virtual conferences and debates, that could act as a catalyst for a huge change in societal habits," said Sheffield.

"For instance, it could be a real benefit for those who are not comfortable with going into a traditional office place to be able to create the space for more home working whilst truly delivering great value to their business. Then, if everyone worked from home one day per week, that just might take 20% off the roads and rail links that we use for our commute - not to mention the 20% reduction in the desk space that we might need in the expensive offices that we occupy."

[edit] Gathering insights

The programme’s first stage has been to gather insight from experts on what Covid-19 shows us we can, and must, do differently to address Britain’s entrenched social, economic and environmental challenges. Initial findings will be outlined in a Green Paper and a consultation period will be held, with infrastructure professionals and other stakeholders invited to offer submissions that will inform the final White Paper.

The programme will provide a crucial information resource for government and industry stakeholders during a time when they may be unable to do so, as they are rightly focused on reducing the spread of Covid-19 and mitigating the impact of measures put in place such as social distancing. The White Paper will also make a series of recommendations for future infrastructure requirements and how to deliver these based on the expertise fed in through the consultation process.

See also: Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems - next steps.

--The Institution of Civil Engineers

This article was originally published on 4 May 2020 on the ICE website. It was written by Matthew Rogerson.

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