Distributed Systems: A design model for sustainable and resilient infrastructure

How do we prepare now for a future of unprecedented resource scarcity and environmental change?

Unless we take radical steps to increase the resilience and sustainability of critical infrastructure, access to vital systems and services is at risk.

This paper highlights the dynamic forces increasing the vulnerability of current infrastructure and services and presents the case for distributed systems as an alternative design model.

We suggest this model exists in the natural environment and in production and consumption systems that have already begun adapting to conditions of increased uncertainty, resource scarcity and a ‘low-carbon’ future.  A distributed approach to system design offers many benefits over traditional infrastructure models.

Research and case studies strongly suggest such an approach can:

  1. Increase the physical resilience of infrastructure
  2. Foster social and institutional flexibility and innovation
  3. Reduce the environmental footprint of production and consumption