In early 2021, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance FRS FMedSci asked the Royal Academy of Engineering and partners in the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) to identify the interventions needed in the UK's built environment and transport systems to help reduce COVID-19 transmission. The first stage of the project focused on a rapid review of the actions required to develop infection resilience in the short term.
What is infection resilience?
Infection resilience is the use of engineering controls in the built environment and public transport to minimise the risk of the transmission of infections to individuals. Improving infection resilience requires a broad range of interventions to existing infrastructure. These range across occupancy standards, contactless technologies, plumbing and drainage systems, and ventilation systems. These can be deployed in public and commercial spaces (places of work and leisure, specialist settings such as hospitals, schools, care homes, transport hubs and carriages), to protect public health during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase 1 report
Phase 1 of the project was explored through a series of evidentiary hearings. The hearings were designed to be informed by people facing challenges in operating buildings. Interpreting and synthesising this evidence uncovered both short term gaps and systemic weaknesses. These are outlined in the report, Infection resilient environments: Buildings that keep us healthy and safe. Together they form an agenda for change.