SAN DIEGO — Atkins’ “Future Proofing Cities” initiative was presented at an invitation-only “Infrastructure Innovation” panel discussion hosted by Atkins in San Diego on Sept. 9 at the company’s office in Carmel Valley. The purpose of the event was to start a community dialog regarding the area’s infrastructure programs, emerging trends, and sustainable approaches to future development.

A group of about 40 San Diego-area community officials and civil engineers listened to a panel discussion featuring several San Diego-area community leaders:
• Mark Kersey, City of San Diego councilman and chair of the city infrastructure committee;
• Tony Heinrichs, City of San Diego director of public works;
• James Nagelvoort, City of San Diego assistant director of public works and city engineer; and
• Carmen Kasner, a vice president and practice manager in civil engineering infrastructure at Atkins and city engineer for the City of Imperial Beach, Calif.

Kasner, who formerly served as city engineer for the City of Del Mar, Calif., presented the Future Proofing Cities initiative during the panel discussion. She explained that it is a groundbreaking, Atkins-sourced, urban development strategy based on a recently published report of the same name.

The report documents the results of an in-depth study sponsored by Atkins, in partnership with the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and University College London (UCL). Researchers carefully assessed the risk profiles for 129 cities in 20 countries around the world, analyzing potential climate hazards, resource scarcities, and ecosystem damage through the year 2050. The report provides a wealth of statistical data, as well as a broad range of strategies for policy-makers to consider as they seek to “future-proof” their cities against potential threats.

Councilman Kersey noted that Future Proofing Cities is relevant to San Diego because of the focus on long-term, interdisciplinary planning. “We have clear and immediate infrastructure needs,” noted Kersey. “We also have an urgent need to finalize our first long-term infrastructure strategy. [We need] a five-year infrastructure plan to help us future-proof San Diego.”

Heinrichs stressed that water supply and distribution are two of the most significant infrastructure challenges facing the region. “Our critical water-supply needs will drive innovation in areas like indirect potable reuse and finding smarter, more cost-effective alternatives to full secondary treatment,” Heinrichs said.

“Regardless of their size or location,” stated Kasner, “cities need to act now to future-proof their urban development and infrastructure strategies before getting locked into unsustainable development pathways. This type of thinking is exactly what we bring to the table with our Future Proofing Cities initiative.”

Learn more about the Future Proofing Cities report at