Wi-Fi could be hit by climate change


Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has called for the UK tech and other key industries to protect themselves from the adverse affects of climate change, by adopting design and planning measures to cope with extreme weather conditions.

Speaking at the publication of a cross-government report entitled "Climate Resilient Infrastructure," Mrs Spelman has urged the ICT, transport, energy and water sectors to take preventative insurance measures now, to keep our communications, transport and power networks constantly operational in the future.

"Our economy is built on effective transport and communications networks and reliable energy and water supplies," she said. "But the economy cannot grow if there are repeated power failures, or goods cannot be transported because roads are flooded and railways have buckled, or if intense rainfall or high temperatures disrupt Wi-Fi signals."

In an interview with The Guardian, she added: "If climate change threatens the quality of your signal, or you can't get it because of extreme fluctuations in temperature, then you will be disadvantaged, which is why we must address the question.

"And just imagine in the height of an emergency if the communications system is down or adversely affected."

The Government's macroeconomic strategy plans to support UK industry infrastructures in this regard amount to some 200 billion, a sum which is expected to be invested over the next five years.

Aligning Mrs Spelman's comments more closely with the core requirement for both physical and technological robustness at all levels, Rail minister Theresa Villiers highlighted the importance of the UK's transport network planning for climate change.

"Despite the need to cut deficits, the government is committed to investing in our transport infrastructure through vital projects such as the Thameslink upgrade, Crossrail, the proposed High Speed Rail Network and more electrification of the rail network," she said.

Actions identified in the report include the need for infrastructure owners and operators to include measures to improve climate resilience in the maintenance schedules for their assets, and for potential infrastructure investors to demand more information from companies on the climate risks to their assets and measures taken to reduce them, as part of their due diligence processes.