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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information
 

The CAPE Advanced Technology Lecture presented by Dr Jennifer Schooling is now available to view on YouTube.

Several times a year, the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) organises lectures on topics of current interest to its Partners from a range of distinguished speakers, including Dr Jennifer Schooling, Director of CSIC, who presented the lecture titled ‘Developments in Smart Infrastructure and Construction’.

Following an introduction by the Director of CAPE Professor Daping Chu, Dr Schooling began the lecture by explaining why infrastructure matters and the benefits of formalised infrastructure and the services it delivers: “Fundamentally infrastructure facilitates modern, healthy and flourishing human societies.” Infrastructure is key to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, both directly and indirectly, enabling good health and wellbeing, supporting work and economic growth and reducing inequality.

Fundamentally infrastructure facilitates modern, healthy and flourishing human societies Dr Jennifer Schooling, Director CSIC

Dr Schooling explained infrastructure as a complex system of systems and system of services, interweaving energy, water, IT and transport which all interconnect with each other and must be managed accordingly. When new assets are built, they are adding to the system at a very slow rate – even large infrastructure projects like HS2 and Tideway are a small intervention on a much bigger system.

In order to keep our infrastructure fit for purpose, we need insights from data into its performance and behaviour to better inform decision making: “Cyber physical systems, or digital twins, are a smart way of adding value to both existing and new strategic built assets. The virtual representation of the physical twin draws data from the real physical twin to be analysed and inform interventions. There is a feedback loop from the physical twin to the digital twin and back to the physical twin.”

Dr Schooling emphasised the importance of taking a whole-life value-based perspective to infrastructure throughout the planning, designing, building, maintaining and operating life cycle. She highlighted the work of CSIC taking an integrated and smart approach to monitoring existing infrastructure using data from a range of sources – from sensors and mobile phones to satellites. Monitoring and data analytics enable engineers to learn from real performance to make better decisions, to reduce uncertainty and meet the challenges of resource scarcity, zero carbon and the need for resilient infrastructure.

The challenge of using data well was discussed and the crucial role of curation to enable data to be available to identify long term trends – which in the context of long-lived infrastructure can be critical. Better data can help to inform design, reduce waste, improve quality and delivery, and enable whole life value-based asset management and proactive maintenance to deliver social value to society.

The lecture also featured details of a number of CSIC projects including a prioritisation framework developed for whole-life value-based risk-informed asset management for bridges, the development of a digital twin for the structural health monitoring of Staffordshire rail bridges, and a Digital Cities for Change case study of Cambridge highlighting how smart cities can deliver public value 

 

• Listen to the CAPE lecture ‘Developments in Smart Infrastructure and Construction’ here.

 

 

 

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