Have your say on how digital can improve the nation’s infrastructure

The National Infrastructure Commission is inviting evidence on how new digital technologies can improve the productivity of the UK’s infrastructure.

It forms part of the commission’s latest study, which examines how these innovations could be used to better plan and maintain the country’s infrastructure network.

The New Technologies study will also consider the security and resilience requirements of new systems producing large amounts of data and how new models such as digital twins could be introduced to help plan for future infrastructure needs.

It will carry out the work through four case studies:

  • Better asset management through the application of artificial intelligence – in particular, the maintenance of masonry arch bridges in the rail network;
  • Smarter traffic management – to make better use of the road network, and as part of the move towards connected and autonomous vehicles;
  • Water efficiency – how new technologies can be used to drive efficiencies, and reduce leakages in the system; and
  • Big data – considering how we can support the effective deployment of data-based technologies by enabling the improved collection, management and use of infrastructure data

The study follows a request from the chancellor for the NIC to identify which new technologies have the greatest potential for improving the productivity of infrastructure and what steps government should take to support their deployment. 

An initial call for evidence in February asked which technologies should be considered, with the responses focusing predominantly on digital.

This latest call for evidence asks for views on how these are already being used, how they could be extended further and what future opportunities may become available.

Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Lord Adonis said: “From artificial intelligence to virtual reality, digital technologies play an increasing role in people’s everyday lives, but we are only just beginning to see how it could be used to address some of the country’s greatest challenges.

“The evidence we’ve received makes clear that digital technologies will be at the heart of what we do in future to better manage and maintain our infrastructure. Today I’m issuing a call for evidence on how we make this happen and ensure we remain at the forefront of infrastructure innovation.

“We want to hear a range of views – whether from people in the industry or the general public; from specialists in infrastructure or in digital technology – so we can develop a way forward that takes advantage of the most cutting-edge technologies available.”

Click here for details of the call for evidence.

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