43rd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Peripheries, Centres, and Spatial Development in the New Europe", 27th - 30th August 2003, Jyväskylä, Finland
Much of the infrastructure in use today was designed and constructed decades if not centuries ago. Many of these infrastructure systems are vulnerable to a variety of anthropogenic or natural disruptions even though their functioning is vital to the creation and maintenance of quality of life in a region. Moreover, concepts and designs have persisted even as technologies have changed. Yet the demands and technologies of the future may require infrastructures - both material facilities and human institutions - that are radically different from those of the present. Dealing appropriately with immediate infrastructure vulnerabilities and infrastructure evolution requires a combination of effective short-term crisis management and anticipatory, strategic thinking and planning. Both the "material nature" and institutional issues surrounding urban infrastructure in a changing environment pose formidable challenges to efforts by industrial ecologists to improve the sustainability of urban areas. This presentation describes a collaborative study carried out over the course of more than three years by a group of scientists from engineering, policy analysis, geography and public health, together with a local planning agency and over 200 stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sectors in metropolitan Boston. The research was conducted as part of the CLIMB project, which explores Climate's Long-term Impacts on Metro Boston. Special focus was given to vulnerabilities and dynamics of urban infrastructures for energy, communication, transportation, water run-off, and water quality, as well as the interrelatedness of these systems, and implications for public health. Computer-based scenarios are presented for potential future infrastructure dynamics under a variety of assumptions about changes in technology, infrastructure investment, and local climates. The presentation concludes with a set of strategies for environmental investment and policy making that are currently considered for metro Boston, and many of which are highly relevant to, and directly applicable in other locations.