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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information
 

On Friday 24 February 2023, CSIC hosted our annual Partner Strategy Day at Robinson College, Cambridge. The event included presentations by CSIC academics and members of the CSIC Early-Career Academics and Professionals Panel (ECAPP) followed by roundtable discussions.

ECAPP was appointed by CSIC in June 2022 with the purpose to:

  • To increase the diversity of views that are considered in CSIC’s strategic decision making. 

  • To strengthen connections between CSIC, its industry partners, and its broader academic network, and especially to encourage the development of connections between individuals across a wider range of seniorities. 

  • To provide career-development opportunities for early-career academics and professionals, enabling them to meet like-minded individuals and to work together to deliver a programme of activity, jointly agreed between the panel and CSIC. 

Presentations and discussion focused on the following four ‘enablers of better future infrastructure’ that ECAPP have chosen to work on this year.

  1. Systems thinking in real-world delivery of major projects and programmes - moving from 'outputs' to 'outcomes'.

A new framework was presented to describe the embedment of systems thinking in infrastructure project/programme selection, followed by consideration on how this framework may help projects/programmes to deliver broader societal benefits.

  1. Digitalisation and data-driven methods for optimisation in infrastructure.

This session looked at the increasing presence of data in infrastructure applications, the extent to which the industry is transforming this data into knowledge and the practical constraints preventing the industry from achieving better data-driven solutions.

  1. The value case/'incentive conundrum' for smarter infrastructure - making the financial argument for doing things differently.

This session encouraged reflection on the reasons why requests for funding or proposals are sometimes rejected, on the perception of ‘true value’ at both ends, with industry/academia on the one hand and funding bodies on the other, and on ways to close any discrepancy between them.

  1. Transformation of skills and education, and cross-pollination of ideas between fields, to change behaviours in industry.

This session considered skills gaps that prevent engineers and organisations from leveraging digitalisation/data-driven methods to achieve their objectives. In particular, it looked at how these skills gaps have been addressed in industry, including examples of when this has and hasn't worked. It discussed ways that organisations can better address these skill gaps in future and the commitments needed to improve this situation more broadly.

 

In all, with 65 participants from across the sector attending the event, it was a great opportunity to meet with colleagues, hear presentations on cutting edge research, and share opinions and experiences during roundtable discussion sessions.

The outcomes of the roundtable discussions from the Strategy Day will feed into enabler workshops and discussion papers by ECAPP.

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