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 7, 2021
Every five years, in the approach to the Welsh Parliament /Senedd Cymru elections, I put together a Manifesto for ICE Wales Cymru outlining our recommendations for the future with the aim of influencing the new ‘order’ and achieving what we consider to be important goals. This year our report is making three main recommendations in the areas of Resilience, Skills and an Infrastructure Pipeline.
Article | April 28, 2020
A digital twin is much more than just a 3D model of a building. It contains detailed information of all equipment and components, including their physical properties and cost. The model can also reflect the exact state of building elements, showing issues like mechanical wear. Digital twins can also be used as simulation tools, to analyze how a building would behave under different conditions.
Article | May 18, 2021
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has published a new assessment of how behaviour change brought by Covid-19 will impact infrastructure networks as part of its prep work ahead of the second National Infrastructure Assessment.
The NIC’s findings are that it's too early to assume that Covid-19 behaviour change will lead to completely different patterns of infrastructure use, even if these changes remain in place. The commission recommends using realistic scenarios and planning responses to the range of possibilities these scenarios present to manage uncertainty. They also suggest a more ‘adaptive’ approach to longer-term project commitments and using data to understand how changes are unfolding.