National infrastructure systems

Our National infrastructure systems supply the water, energy, communications, transport systems and waste systems that are essential to society. As identified in the Council for Science and Technology’s 2009 report on A National Infrastructure for the 21st century:

A high-quality national infrastructure is essential for supporting economic growth and productivity, attracting globally-mobile businesses to the UK, and for promoting social wellbeing.

All recent relevant reports recognise the importance of delivering a safe, reliable and resilient infrastructure to address future environmental, demographic and economic changes, and also recognise the importance of considering infrastructure as a network of inter-related systems.

There is a need to ensure that we have skilled people that are able to manage and deliver the sustainable and resilient National Infrastructure Systems of the future.

The challenge is highly multidisciplinary, requiring an understanding of a range of engineering, technologies (such as sensors), mathematics and social sciences, as well as a strong understanding of the interrelationships and interdependencies between infrastructure systems and an ability to work seamlessly within and across traditional boundaries. There is also a need to understand the importance of resilience and risk, user behaviour and resource demands across Intelligent Infrastructure networks.

A community of expertise is forming in this area that requires the skilled people that a cohort based doctoral training programme can deliver. There is a need for trained people that are able to comfortably work within a system, understanding the issues, techniques and methodologies relevant to that system. They should also be capable of working across systems, understanding the relationships and interdependencies between them and the global context within which these systems are positioned.

To ensure the supply of skilled people across the breadth of this area, any proposal needs to be technically and theoretically oriented, but with strong engagement from industry and policy makers.