Resilience, understood here as a persistence of the functionality (or utility in its broadest sense) and system relationships which infrastructure systems provide for society embraces the concepts of awareness, detection, communication, reaction (and if possible avoidance) and recovery.
These are essential features of the daily struggle for life and are founded in our basic instinct of survival. Resilience also suggests an ability and willingness to adapt over time to a changing and potentially threatening environment, and the capability for a system to self-organise. In this context there has been much work in and around the concepts of resilience of systems and the role of complexity in securing stability and reliability in spheres ranging from natural systems to financial institutions. Common threads in this work are the notions of ‘capital’ and ‘service flows’, and the role of feedbacks and diversity within each of the Five Capitals – Natural, Built / Manufactured, Human, Social, and, Financial.
Although some attempts have been made to connect or at least locate, these different concepts in relation to one another, a useful understanding of the full extent and nature of vulnerabilities and interdependencies which is a precursor to improved risk management and system governance remain in their infancy. The nirvana for academia (and for society at large) is to secure a cross-disciplinary and cross sector understanding in order to capitalise on novel thinking within and between these normally disparate fields. The identification and exploration of knowledge gaps across the critical national and economic infrastructure of the UK may then be used as a springboard for further understanding and action.