By Steven Webb, Vice President - Aerospace, Defence & Security
The widespread devastation to infrastructure and human life caused by floods and tsunamis is both a global and increasingly urban phenomenon. The headlines are shocking and with the rate of urbanisation increasing, the cost to business and citizens will be substantial as extreme weather patterns become more pervasive. However, technology is increasingly available to help mitigate and respond to disasters in a timely and effective manner, thus reducing the impact of flooding.
The rate of urbanisation and importance of cities as economic powerhouses to drive wealth and standards of living is a widely accepted global mega trend. According to the United Nations the world's urban population is expected to increase by 72% from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050 with urban areas absorbing all of the population growth during this period plus continuing migration from rural areas. Rural populations are expected to decline at a global level after 20211. In addition migration to floodplains of urban areas will put larger numbers of people at risk from flooding. In East Asia alone this is forecast to rise from 18 million in 2000 to 45-67 million by 20602.
Cities are competing with each other more than ever before. They are competing for inward investment from multinationals and they are competing for talent to drive wealth creation and standards of living. Increasingly city authorities are realising that to attract business and talent they need to do more than delivering the right fiscal tools or building infrastructure. Businesses want reliable and uninterrupted productivity and employees want security and safety. With many of the world's most populous cities situated in areas that make them susceptible to environmental disasters, the need to protect business and populations from flooding is becoming increasingly important. Resilient systems and processes are essential.