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article imageImpact of technological change on future infrastructure

By Tim Sandle     Aug 13, 2018 in Business
London - The U.K. government has embarked upon a series of reviews examining how infrastructure is being impacted by technological change. The review includes a review of integrated transport.
The government has tasked the National Infrastructure Commission with developing a National Infrastructure Assessment. A series of papers have been produced focusing on technology.
One of the papers examines the drivers of future infrastructure supply and demand throughout the UK. The aim is to develop some long-term plausible scenarios stretching to 2050. The review also looks at ways to improve infrastructure productivity.
The brief acknowledges how technology has changed society: “Technology enables us to live a lifestyle that our predecessors would have struggled to conceptualise. People now live longer than ever before, in greater levels of comfort and with ever-increasing amounts of information at their fingertips.”
These innovations in technology can assist with improving infrastructure, in which connected infrastructure systems are at the heart. The following areas are under consideration in terms of technological improvement: transport, digital, energy, water and wastewater, flood risk and solid waste.
The model used is a six-stage process for technological development, which runs: recognising a problem or need, basic and applied research, development, commercialisation, diffusion and adoption and finally the changes which occur to an individual or to as social system as a result of the adoption or rejection of an innovation (which he terms “consequences”).
In addition to the report, the Commission has several projects on-going. One of these is a real-time information project to assist with rail journeys across the country. A tender has been issued to technology firms to develop travel apps for passengers in the future.
A second project is connected to a new high-speed rail network, dubbed HS2. The Commission’s Sir John Armitt has, on the back of the infrastructure benefits of HS2, discussed the need for integrated transport links like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Crossrail 2, as well as for improving inner-city transport connections.
A third area is with supporting offshore wind energy projects. This will lead to auctions of suitable wind energy plant sites, to be held in 2019 and then every two years. The Commission will offer support worth up to £557 million. This is part of the government strategy whereby renewables account for least 50 per cent of the U.K. energy mix by 2030.
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