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 | April 16, 2020
Over the next few weeks, we invite you to join us for a short-form blog series on how SWE Members are navigating the world amidst COVID-19. In this third blog, we are pleased to feature Tuyet-Hanh Schnell from South New Jersey. Today, we are pleased to feature Tuyet-Hanh Schnell from South New Jersey. These blogs will showcase how different SWE members are engineering their lives during this fluid and ever-changing environment.
Article | May 13, 2021
Theconstruction industryhas long been challenged by a number of inefficiencies. As countries across the world look to stimulate their economies into recovery, investment in infrastructure and construction projects is at the forefront for many—meaning now is the time for construction companies to face and resolve their inefficiencies.
In an earlier blog I looked atkey trends in the industry for 2021and noted that increasing productivity is still one of the major hurdles that the industry needs to overcome. However while there is no one-size-fits all to resolving this, there are some general themes that can be adopted by all who are ready to transition to a more dynamic, agile and profitable construction company which is centered around the adoption of best practices.
Article | May 15, 2021
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has revealed the long list of sites under consideration for development of the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant.An open call for sites to host the Spherical Tokomak for Energy Production (Step) facility was opened last year and compliance check of those nominated has led to publication of the long list.
According to the UKAEA, moving fusion from research and development to design and delivery is an important part of the UK’s ambition to be a world leader in sustainable, low-carbon energy. Fusion has the potential to provide an abundant source of low-carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars. UKAEA has said that this new technology will play an important role alongside established renewable technologies such as wind and solar.Step programme director Paul Methven said: “STEP is about building on the amazing science done over decades in fusion and translating that into a real prototype power plant that paves the way for this fantastic new energy source.