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EPSRC Reference: EP/E062865/1
Title: Biological metaphors and crisis: building self-healing, emergence and resilience into critical infrastructures
Principal Investigator: Fischbacher-Smith, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Pidd, Professor M Winfield, Professor AFT Falconer, Professor RE
Bell, Professor SJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Business and Management
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2007 Ends: 31 May 2011 Value (£): 366,002
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complexity Science Non-linear Systems Mathematics
System on Chip
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The speed and operation of modern societies has created a dependence on a number of 'critical infrastructures'. These include the various components of transport, telecommunications, power transmission, waste management and the supply and treatment of water resources. As society becomes more dependent upon such infrastructures, it also becomes potentially more vulnerable to the loss of those 'services', either to accidental failures or deliberate attacks. This research considers the implications of the inherent vulnerability that is embedded within critical infrastructures due to the focus on efficiency rather than effectiveness within the system. Low cost provision of infrastructures leaves them open to failure through a range of processes including, attack by external agents, shortages of essential resources such as oil or water, breakdowns at key nodal points or through catastrophic surges into the network that overwhelms its abilities to absorb the additional demand. In addition, the fixed nature of the networks creates problems associated with switching and re-routing which exacerbates problems around nodal points and surge absorption. This research seeks to address solutions to these problems by drawing together findings from a number of disciplines that span the science-social science boundaries. In particular, there are many parallels between the desired properties of critical infrastructures and the emergent behaviour of biological networks. These networks have evolved to be resilient to perturbation, can restore functionality under conditions of profound disruption and are capable of adaptation under external forcing. The research aims to draw inspiration from the latest research on the origin of emergent behaviour in these networks and examine the implications for our understanding of the protection and sustainability of critical infrastructures in a number of industrial and service sectors.
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Organisation Website: http://www.gla.ac.uk