Better data for better resilience

This week on 10th and 11th June the ARCC conference took place at Birmingham. The ARCC network is fostering knowledge exchange in the field of adaptation and resilience in buildings, urban environments, transport networks, water resources and energy systems.

The event opened with Adrian Philips, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, stating that cities are about people, not buildings; adaptation in order to improve people’s well-being is thus essential.

Then presenters from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) highlighted that research had a higher impact when it is collaborative, and that there is a crucial need for different research projects to be better connected to each other, especially while engaging with SMEs. All EPSRC reports are accessible here.

Throughout the whole conference, the need for more data, especially around climate adaptation, became a recurrent theme. For example, Angie Bone, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at Public Health England, emphasized the need for more quantitative evidence in regard to flood risks.

This was echoed by John Dora, from Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation (TRaCCA), while he highlighted that Network Rail had no records of flooding data until recently. In order to build a proper forecasting system and to allow stakeholders to share data and expertise, TRaCCA intends to build a knowledge dissemination platform via Spark.

During the breaking session called ‘Powering cities’, several concrete research projects were explained, like the Adaptation and Resilience in Energy Systems (ARIES project) from Heriot-Watt University: this tool synthesizes electrical demand profiles from dwellings and transform this data into an aggregated profile. The university had also previously developed a risk assessment tool that assesses the risk of buildings overheating or existing cooling systems failing in a future climate.

On the conference’s second day, LCCP Director Juliette Daniels gave a presentation, ‘Networked Adaptation: Building National Resilience Through Local Action’, as part of the Overheating and IAQ in the Urban Environment session. This showcased the work done so far by LCCP and Climate UK on heat, and plans for future work. The session, chaired by Rob Pannell, Director of the Zero Carbon Hub, also had presentations from experts at Arup, UCL and Oxford Brooks University, providing an overview of some of the key projects currently looking at heat and air quality in the UK. Other sessions during the day included focus on infrastructure interdependencies, flood risk, buildings and smart adapting cities.

Over the course of the conference, participants were also invited to identify themes and gaps where the ARCC network could help facilitate further synthesis and knowledge exchange activities in the future. This information is now being assessed but key emerging areas where evidence is required are:

– smart adapting cities
– buildings and extreme events
– behavioural change and its role in adaptation

Non-academic participants also highlighted the growing resource challenge for stakeholders to be involved in academic projects where there is no funding available for the time given by local authorities and NGOs: this may end up limiting the co-creation of solutions through research because resources are so constrained.

To find out more about the conference and its outputs you can visit ARCC’s website.

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