It is good to live in interesting times, and the past few months have certainly been interesting for us all.
Here at ICE HQ, the Brexit vote on 23 June was an immediate spur to action. Arguments about leave or remain fell away as attention turned to the urgent challenge of helping our sector navigate its way through the exit process.
The industry has responded very positively to Sir John Armitt’s call to unite under the ICE’s leadership. A whole range of firms and bodies are working feverishly to tease out how Brexit will impact on skills, standards, procurement, investment and research.
Importantly the Brexit Infrastructure Group is developing a strategic view of what a post-Brexit UK can achieve and our sector’s contribution to that vision.
We believe this has been a vital first step. As Armitt observed in a recent ICE blog: “If we start out by getting to the heart of what it is we are really trying to achieve, often we tease out the real risks and opportunities more quickly, and we end up with a decision that is strategic, benefiting society in the long term. This same strategic thinking must be applied to the Brexit negotiations.”
Speaking of strategy and vision, the ICE’s policy team has spent the summer with its eyes firmly on the 2050 horizon. Earlier in the year you may have been one of the many who contributed evidence to the ICE-led National Needs Assessment (NNA).
This ambitious project will deliver a 30 year view of the assets and services the UK will need to thrive in the global economy, provide a high quality of life and realise a low carbon future.
The foundation of the project is a detailed analysis of long term drivers of demand, which has been undertaken by the ground breaking Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium, led by ICE Fellow, professor Jim Hall from the University of Oxford.
The NNA will also set out options for how the UK can meet its needs in the form of a series of easy to understand pathways that include new assets, enhancements to our networks, improvements to asset management and targeted demand management.
Armitt, in his dual role as ICE President and member of the National Infrastructure Commission, will launch the NNA on 19 October.
So we are in interesting times but our profession is on the front foot. The infrastructure agenda is being set by the ICE and we are the natural place for leaders in the sector to come together.
But we can’t be complacent. If we are to continue to play this role – and deliver the benefit to society that is at the heart of our mission – we need to ensure we stay the venue of choice for those wanting to develop and share new thinking on the big challenges.
This is why a third plank of our busy summer has been the launch of ICE Thinks. This is a new, interactive online think-tank for showcasing and debating new ideas. For example, you can hear about how artificial intelligence will impact on engineering, or explore whether we have really learnt from the past when it comes to creating towns and cities people want to live in.
Check it out on the ICE’s website, contribute your own ideas and join the effort to shape our world for the better.