Toward adaptive infrastructure: flexibility and agility in a non-stationarity age

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


As technologies rapidly progress, there is growing evidence that our civil infrastructure do not have the capacity to adaptively and reliably deliver services in the face of rapid changes in demand, conditions of service, and environmental conditions. Infrastructure are facing multiple challenges including inflexible physical assets, unstable and insufficient funding, maturation, utilization, increasing interdependencies, climate change, social and environmental awareness, changes in coupled technology systems, lack of transdisciplinary expertise, geopolitical security, and wicked complexity. These challenges are interrelated and several produce non-stationary effects. Successful infrastructure in the twenty-first century will need to be flexible and agile. Drawing from other industries, we provide recommendations for competencies to realize flexibility and agility: roadmapping, focus on software over hardware, resilience-based thinking, compatibility, connectivity, and modularity of components, organic and change-oriented management, and transdisciplinary education. First, we will need to understand how non-technical and technical forces interact to lock in infrastructure, and create path dependencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-191
Number of pages19
JournalSustainable and Resilient Infrastructure
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


  • Infrastructure
  • adaptation
  • agility
  • flexibility
  • non-stationarity
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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