A holistic approach to infrastructure management is now critical

Boulent Imam, Surrey University

We have reached an era where infrastructure is not seen anymore as a simple network consisting of individual assets but infrastructure sectors are now being considered as large interconnected systems.

Recent events, such as the floods that occurred in parts of the UK back in 2007, have demonstrated that infrastructure sectors can be interdependent to each other where an asset failure in one sector can have cascading effects into other sectors.

Infrastructure behaves as a system of systems. There have been considerable efforts over the last few years to address this systemic behaviour, mainly through academic research through, without necessarily extending into real-life practical applications. The frameworks for taking a holistic approach to infrastructure planning, development, operation and management to maximise whole-life value from these systems have been advanced.

Infrastructure In The Real World and How It Happens in UK

Date: Wednesday 15 October

Time: 1400 - 1500

Location: Griffiths Building, Lecture Theatres F

Keynote Speaker: Sir Michael Pitt

Parallel to this, long-term sustainable plans to meet the UK’s infrastructure ambitions taking a strategic approach to infrastructure planning, funding, financing, delivery and operation have been established through the recent National Infrastructure Plans. These plans identified a lack of expertise in this area and emphasise the importance of having people with the necessary skills to support towards effective delivery of these Plans.

The University of Surrey has developed a pioneering MSc Programme in Infrastructure Engineering and Management to address this shortage of specialists in this area. Very few universities world-wide offer courses in Infrastructure and the University of Surrey has created a unique postgraduate programme helping people qualify in a fast-moving area with all the necessary knowledge and skills required.

The programme has been carefully designed by receiving support and feedback from key figures of the UK Government, organisations linked with Infrastructure and renowned experts in this area.

The MSc not only suits UK-based practise, but it will also provide the foundations of training experts that can assist developing countries in planning new and/or managing existing infrastructure systems, especially in congested countries like China and India.

The Programme runs on full-time and part-time modes this academic year (2014-2015) but will start being delivered in Distance Learning mode from September 2015 onwards, making it easily reachable to every corner of the world. The University of Surrey has extensive experience in developing and running MSc programmes, both in full-time and distance-learning format, for over 40 years.


As part of the MSC programme, a number of keynote lectures will be delivered by high distinguished experts in Infrastructure, including Sir Michael Pitt, Sir John Armitt, Dr Tim Stone and Keith Clarke. The first talk is on the 15th October 2014, given by Sir Michael Pitt (see box)


Boulent Imam is senior lecturer in Civil Engineering Structures and programme director for the MSc Infrastructure Engineering and Management at the University of Surrey.