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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

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CSIC Director features in Materials World

last modified May 06, 2016 11:06 AM
A roundtable debate about transport infrastructure in the UK, published in the May issue of Materials World, features a number of expert contributors, including Dr Jennifer Schooling, CSIC Director.


Materials World is the leading monthly engineering materials magazine for members published by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).

The article brings together transport and infrastructure specialists to consider investment and planning for infrastructure, and propose solutions to challenges.

“The areas I would focus on would be improving the way in which we monitor, gather and store data,” said Jennifer. We are already starting to do this but we don't yet regard data as an asset in its own right. The UK needs to learn how to articulate that and tackle some of the challenges around sharing data between different organisations.”

Other expert contributors to the roundtable article included: Amanda Clack, a partner at EY and Head of Infrastructure who will take the role as President for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in June this year; Dr Marcus Emoch, Senior Lecturer in Transport Studies at Loughborough University; Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), and Mark Carne, the CEO of Network Rail.

Discussion of innovation in infrastructure highlighted examples of good practice, but also the problems associated with a fragmented industry: “There has been some great work done by Network Rail and some contractors who arm all their construction and maintenance workers with tablets, which means they have instant access to data. A willingness to take a risk, try things out and learn from them is also something to consider,” said Jennifer. “One of the challenges is that we have a very fragmented industry – no organisation sees themselves as responsible for innovation. A recent survey on innovation in infrastructure showed that everyone thinks it is a great idea, but that it is someone else's responsibility. We have to accept some things will fail, because that is the key to innovation and solutions.”

Jennifer explained the value of smart infrastructure to bring solutions to pressing problems: “One of the benefits of having smarter infrastructure is that you can get more out of your existing infrastructure. In a nation like ours, that has limited free space, you can't build your way out of a capacity problem, you have got to find better ways of using your existing infrastructure capacity.”


Download the Materials World app (£3.33 per issue) and read the full article here.