Toolkit for Resilient Cities

The “Toolkit for Resilient Cities” is a report prepared by Arup, Siemens and the non-profit Regional Planning Association, that explores the role of technology in enhancing the resilience of cities and their critical infrastructure systems, and the enabling actions that can support a new approach to system design and delivery.

The toolkit focuses on physical infrastructure relating to energy, transportation, water and buildings. These systems were chosen because they are essential to other city operations and services, including sanitation, emergency response, and the delivery of food, fuel and other materials. The research considers proven technology solutions applicable to emerging and established cities, and the enabling actions required from policy makers, utility providers and other city stakeholders to facilitate delivery.

The results of this research, as explained in the report, show that technology is a key component of resilient and efficient infrastructure protection. Cities should integrate resilience into all aspects of their planning and normal investment and maintenance cycles - in order to reduce potential damages, enhance productivity, create a safe place to live and save billions of U.S. dollars.

The report demonstrates that only repairing damaged infrastructures without incorporating resiliency measures is extremely cost-intensive. Investments in resilient solutions, on the other hand, not only protect against damage, but also make urban infrastructure more cost-efficient, energy-efficient and reliable.

According to the report, between 2000 and 2012, natural disasters - including weather, health and seismic events - caused $1.7 trillion globally in damages. 

A New York City case study is included in the toolkit. A high level review was taken of the vulnerabilities in the New York City electrical grid and the steps that could be taken to mitigate risk. Impacts of four types of natural hazards (drought, heat wave, wind and flood) on the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity where explored, in order to extrapolate how to reduce vulnerabilities.

From the analysis of the threats to the NYC grid, the authors developed a range of investment options, which are described in more detail in the report:

  • Making equipment more robust
  • Expanding demand reduction programs to reduce peak demand and network congestion
  • Developing a smart grid for greater flexibility and responsiveness

An economic analysis for NYC was developed also - to demonstrate the business case for investing in technologies that enhance resilience and help to manage risk by improving robustness, redundancy, responsiveness, flexibility and diversity to the grid, while also increasing capacity and efficiency in normal times.

The report estimates that New York could spend a total of $3 billion over the next 20 years by simply repairing its present infrastructure as each new weather disaster strikes. Or it could invest in $400 million on upgrades now, and perhaps save up to $2 billion in the long run.

Publication Date: September 25, 2013

Related Organizations:

  • Arup
  • Regional Plan Association
  • Siemens


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Case study


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User Comments:

  • December 11, 2018
    Cole Roberts, Associate Principal at Arup

    A valuable contribution to the continued efforts to make our cities more resilient.