Systems Engineering of Projects as Interventions in Civil Infrastructure

Civil infrastructure is increasingly complex, inter-connected and cyber-physical in nature. To safeguard and support future generations’ quality of life, decision-makers need insight into infrastructure interdependencies within the project and across its boundaries. Yet, infrastructure complexity is growing faster than infrastructure companies’ ability to address it. A systems engineering approach is vital to ensure interventions, whether retrofit or large-scale infrastructure delivery, address resilience and improve performance, sustainability and resource-use. While digital information is needed to understand interdependence, the cyber-physical nature of infrastructure adds complexity. New tools and methods are needed to ensure our infrastructure performs as demands on the environment change, and as the complexity of projects increase. To provide heads-up displays that enable decision-makers timely access to information in the context of use, research challenges are:

1) network analysis of resilient and high performing systems;

2) assurance, uncertainty and risk in digital asset information;

3) collaborative modelling of cyber-physical interactions; and

4) visualization for decision-making.

Inter-disciplinary research is needed to transform civil infrastructure delivery, operation and retrofit by developing tools and processes that support real-time decision-making in infrastructure interventions, using the potential of co-modelling, machine learning, and advances in industrial automation, data analytics and graph theory. It will have deep business engagement (with infrastructure owners and operators, complex projects, and their supply chain); and build a UK research community; and outputs will include a research base and new knowledge, next generation tools, business models and data analytics to support the UK civil infrastructure industry.