We are part of the International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF) which is integrating social and engineering sciences to inform Government policy and industrial practice around infrastructure planning and management.

At a glance

Compared to many parts of the world, the UK has under-invested in its infrastructure in recent decades. It now faces many challenges, including improving understanding of how infrastructure systems in one sector increasingly rely on infrastructure systems in other sectors to function.

These interdependencies mean failures in one system can cause follow-on failures in other systems. For example, failures in the electricity system due to adverse weather can severely impact the pumping required for water supplies as well as disrupt communications and transportation systems. These problems now generate major economic and social costs.

We are seeking to address this issue through the International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF) where we are developing a range of tools and techniques including scenario analyses, modelling interdependencies and risks, exploring new business models and governance configurations, and catalysing debate and public discussion.

Progress update

We are conducting empirical work with a variety of industrial partners to explore the capabilities firms need in order to develop new innovative business models for infrastructure delivery and operation.

We have also taken a particular interest in the relationship between the confidence we have in information about infrastructure degradation rates and the development of investment schedules for infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation. The timing of asset rehabilitation interventions is a significant challenge across utility sectors. If calculation of the cost of preventive maintenance policies is not sufficiently robust, corresponding maintenance programmes can preference interventions that are unnecessarily costly.

To address this, we have developed a computationally efficient decision-theoretic sensitivity analysis for maintenance optimisation problems; this sensitivity analysis can be applied where infrastructure assets are subject to measurable deterioration. The approach makes use of the Expected Value of Partial Perfect Information (EVPPI) concept.