RESIN Resources


RESIN State of the Art Report (1) 

Urban Critical Infrastructure Systems 



Rome, Erich; Voß, Norman, Fraunhofer IAIS  


Connelly, A.; Carter, J; Handley, J., University of Manchester 




Executive Summary

This report aims to review the state of the art with respect to (urban) critical infrastructure systems (UCIS) and critical infrastructure protection (CIP). We revisit different viewpoints and definitions and explain important concepts such as ‘critical infrastructure’ (CI), ‘urban’ and ‘system’. The notion of ‘urban critical infrastructure systems’ does not have a standard definition and is not well researched. Therefore, RESIN will have to find an own definition that takes into account that the urban system is embedded into a greater context. This will be part of the activities towards developing a conceptual framework for RESIN. The report identifies the social-ecological systems approach as one framework for investigating systems in their context (and not in isolation).

For the area of CI, the report reviews the European definition and definitions of CI in Member States. In this report, we propose a definition of urban CI that is a slightly altered version of the European definition. The report also reviews the State of the Art in a core CI topic, namely their interlinkages. These interlinkages or dependencies of CI may lead to cascading failures, which would need to be considered in vulnerability analysis. The report briefly explains the state of identification of CI dependencies and ways of investigating them. CIP follows an ‘all hazards’ approach, implying that climate change (CC) related hazards are just one threat in a multitude of threats to CI. In CIP, more ‘immediate’ threats like terrorist attacks gain more importance than CC related hazards, which poses a challenge to a more comprehensive and integrated approach to vulnerability assessment and adaptation. The report names also the main categories of stakeholders in CI and CIP, introduces basic concepts in CIP, and explains essential limitations and obstacles for investigating, modelling and assessing the vulnerability of UCIS.

This report also briefly compares characteristics of activities in CC Adaptation (CCA) and CIP, like time scale, threats, vulnerability, policy development, stakeholders, and research topics. Lastly, the report names the most important issues for the RESIN project, including the conceptualisation of urban areas and harmonisation of approaches in CC, CIP and social-ecological systems, and proposes some ideas and approaches that RESIN could adopt. The report concludes by identifying the next steps to be undertaken and points out the identification of interlinkages between technical, built, blue and green infrastructure as a new research topic. Final sections and annexes of this report include a glossary of key terms, a short list of key resources, lists of references and examples of CI sectors and CI in European member states.

One finding of the report is, that the way that urban areas/cities are defined has significant implications for understanding climate change risks and adaptation responses. This is also true for our city cases in RESIN. We have to take care how we define their specific urban area and their UCIS. Another finding is the importance and the inherent difficulties of identifying the dependencies of infrastructure elements in the city, and the potential need to incorporate besides the traditional grey (built-up) infrastructure also blue and green (natural) infrastructure in the analysis. A glossary of key terms is also outlined in section 5.