Article | August 24, 2021
Infrastructure Australia outlines new guidance on how to improve infrastructure resilience
Infrastructure Australia has released a new set of resilience guidelines for infrastructure, noting that the events of recent years have brought Australia’s vulnerability to threats such as bushfires, droughts, floods, pandemics and cyber-attacks into sharp focus.
The Advisory Papers, developed in partnership with Infrastructure New South Wales, estimate that, by 2050, the economic cost of natural disasters in Australia will more than double from about AU$18 billion annually to AU$39 billion.
Infrastructure Australia wants infrastructure resilience in project planning and business cases “to become business as usual”. The organisation is required to evaluate business cases for infrastructure projects that receive more than AU$250 million in funding from the federal government and has indicated it may reject proposals that do not effectively incorporate infrastructure resilience.
Article | August 2, 2021
With major demographic challenges on the horizon – including the growth and ageing of the population, coupled with the need to adapt to a changing climate – it is essential that we take a long-term approach to infrastructure planning.The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) aims to do exactly that.
Producing the NIA every five years is one of the NIC’s core responsibilities set out in its charter and its first such report, published in 2018, heavily influenced the government’s recent National Infrastructure Strategy.
Article | August 4, 2021
In amongst the chatter about how we can 'do' infrastructure better, there's now a growing consensus that we need to improve the way we design our interventions - 'design' in the broader sense of the word, rather than the narrow sense we tend to use as engineers.
My front-end principles for better infrastructure
Over the course of my career, the following front-end principles have served well to ensure we think through, before we rush in where angels fear to tread.
Be clear about the purpose and the expected outcomes, and engage communities in decision-making through an effective communication strategy.
Prioritise the user, aiming to offer services that are modern, effective and affordable.
Seek to improve people's quality of life and support the transition to a more sustainable future, while also facilitating the functioning of the economy, enhancing productivity and accommodating growth (to the extent possible, given other competing objectives).
Extract greatest value from existing infrastructure through timely maintenance, repurposing, renewal and upgrading. Seek to remove constraints and bottlenecks.
Aim to make best use of data, automation, innovation and technology (including for future asset management), recognising the complexity and risks this may introduce.
Recognise, analyse, mitigate and manage technical, environmental and climate risks, and complete any surveys necessary to support this.
Improve governance, with robust, timely and transparent decision-making, supported by strong evidence-based planning, clear prioritisation, and best practice technical design and delivery.
Seek an appropriate funding balance between 'user pays' and general taxation which incentivises behaviours in the best long-term social, economic and environmental interests.
Complete well-evidenced business cases and risk assessments of proposed initiatives before embarking on projects, including financing proposals. Aim to allocate the risks identified to those best able to carry them.
Facilitate collaboration between the government and business to promote delivery of the broader social, economic and environmental benefits.
Clearly, there are many other issues to consider as a project develops, and the above principles may seem obvious to some, and a counsel of perfection to others, but it's surprising how many are overlooked in the rush to build.
Article | May 12, 2021
The Ottendorf Viaduct on the Riesa-Chemnitz railway line stood for over 160 years until it could no longer be saved and had to be replaced in 2015. The new replacement structure built at that time was a first for Deutsche Bahn: For the first time in its history, it built a bridge with a frame-stiffened arch structure. Although 3D models were used to some extent in the planning of the structure, the BIM method was not applied, so that no digital twin of the bridge is available for future (maintenance) work.