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Session Overview
RN08_05a_P: Critical Infrastructure Risks and Emergent Responses
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Antti Silvast, University of Edinburgh
Location: PC.2.10
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 2.

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Integrative Currents? Electrifying Turkey-EU Relations in Times of Blackout


Texas A&M University, United States of America

After decade-long intense negotiations, Turkey joined the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) in 2015. Since then, electricity currents roam freely in an expanded European territory that makes up the world's largest electricity market. By sharing transmission codes with each other, ENTSO-E members solidify an electricity union in the wider European region, promising to integrate the peoples, their territories and their resources in the region that are otherwise divided by political and material barriers. Facilitated by incessant transmission wiring, harmonized electricity current coding, liberalized trade, and integrated financial markets, the synchronization of "Turkish" and "European" electricities followed two major blackouts that were decisive in Turkey's finally joining in the ENTSO-E. Taking as its cue the physical blackout of late March, 2015 that exposed how vulnerable Turkish electricity infrastructure was to oversupply, poor line management, or cyber-attacks and the ever-darkening political blackout that the Turkish-EU membership negotiations are currently undergoing, this paper examines the relationship of material and immaterial infrastructures of electricity generation and transmission to the broader questions of power and integration in the wider European region by honing on the negotiations of power and grid expansion between the centers and peripheries of it.

Joint thinking between emergency management and climate change adaptation projects

Nina Baron, Nina Blom Andersen

Metropolitan University College, Denmark

With limited resources and struggles concerning responsibility for disaster risk reduction, it is relevant to explore if climate change adaptation can be more than an expense. In this project we explore how climate change adaptation projects outside larger cities can provide value to local communities in ways that reach further than only flood protection.

This research focuses on the different types of actors, such as municipalities, utility companies, citizens, politicians and emergency management organizations and how they contribute to climate change adaptation measures in local communities. The Danish municipalities have different practices for climate adaption and flood protection projects. Cases in three different Danish municipalities are investigated to identify variations in those practices. We do this by analyzing case studies focusing on dikes – their building, maintenance and administration. Dike building and maintenance are often the center of conflict, grounded in different values connected to local areas. However, insights into those controversies can be a way to gather knowledge about potential improvements of local communities. How can resources spent on this kind of flood protection also have positive impacts, such as improvement of nature, livability, local tourism and business opportunities? Through this research, we aim to spur learning and broader understanding of potential ways to improve the value of climate change adaptation projects outside of cities.

Informal preparedness resources for electricity and ICT breakdowns in Norwegian rural and urban households

Nina Heidenstrøm

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway

Household preparedness is commonly defined as a households’ capability to respond to and manage a potential hazard by having necessary resources, such as family emergency plans, necessary supplies, and information about local emergency response plans, in place. These formal preparedness resources have been a key factor to determine the degree to which a household is prepared for a crisis. Here, we seek to illuminate a more taken for granted part of a households’ capability to manage a crisis, their informal preparedness resources that are an integrated part of everyday life. By employing practice theory, we identify both human (formal and embodied knowledge and motivations), material (dwellings, technologies, consumer products) and social (networks of friends, family, neighbours, colleagues) resources. More specifically, we study informal household preparedness for electricity and ICT breakdowns in Norway. The data material consists of 31 interviews (10 in an urban area, 21 in two rural areas) and a representative survey of Norwegian households (N=1005), providing in-depth narratives of coping without infrastructure, and a generalizable overview of preparedness resources. The results indicate that few households have formal preparedness resources at hand. Furthermore, rural households are more concerned about and better prepared for infrastructure breakdowns than urban households who to a larger degree trust other actors to take responsibility. By connecting formal and informal preparedness measures, we enable a fuller picture of how a household would deal with a potential hazard, as well as in what ways they might be vulnerable if a crisis should occur.

Infrastructure Risk and Biography of Artefacts: Multiple Dynamics and Temporalities

Antti Silvast1, Mikko Virtanen2

1University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom; 2University of Helsinki, Finland

Energy risk and security have become topical matters in Western and international policy discussions; ranging from international climate change mitigation to investment in energy infrastructures to support economic growth and more sustainable energy provisions. As such, ensuring the resilience of more sustainable energy infrastructures against disruptions has become a growing concern for high-level policy makers.

Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and policy analysis, this presentation unpacks the work of the authorities, electricity companies, and lay persons that keeps energy systems from failing and helps them to recover from disruptions if they occur. In-depth social science works have already covered several aspects of these issues: including infrastructure security policy, high reliability organizations, and energy system transitions and innovations on multiple societal levels. However, among the main challenges in this discussion has been reliance on a single kind of actor, field site, viewpoint, or setting as the main source of information; such as only critical infrastructure protection, middle managers in electricity companies, or citizens experiencing power failures.

To address this tendency to centre analyses on particular actors, the presentation draws from the biography of artefacts perspective, developed at the Universities of Edinburgh and Helsinki. It analyses three important sites in the Finnish electricity infrastructure: history of national infrastructure security, actions in specialized electricity control rooms, and electricity blackouts in households. Data from these sites cover long-term priorities and short-term dynamics of critical infrastructure risk, and include design, maintenance, as well as end use perspectives. The presentation pays specific attention to how the field studies were designed, using existing theoretical and empirical understanding about them, and uncovers how interconnections among these sites can be traced.

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