After three years in the planning, the twice postponed, and long overdue, seventh symposium in the International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure series - ISNGI 2022, took place on the 7th September in the Netherlands at the Rotterdam World Trade Centre.
Attended by academics, industry practitioners and government representatives, the programme provides a platform for showcasing innovative infrastructure projects and academic research results, as well as opportunity for interaction, dialogue and exchange of knowledge and experience across disciplines and across infrastructure sectors.
This year’s symposium focused on three interdependent themes closely aligned with the aspirational priorities and focus of UKCRIC’s Scientific Missions. These themes were: Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Systems; Smart and Integrated Infrastructure Systems; and Societal Values and Infrastructure Governance.
The symposium featured insights from 35 researchers and 14 keynote speakers drawn from infrastructure organisations, intergovernmental bodies, national governments, city governments and academia. There were opportunities for discussion and reflection in 6 special sessions; and the symposium offered demonstrations of a number of approaches to infrastructure modelling, visualisation and simulation.
UKCRIC was well represented at the symposium through keynote presentations organised by members of UKCRIC. Links to these sessions can be found at the bottom of this page.
The strength of ISNGI is its ability to bring together international inter-disciplinary perspectives and I always return from ISNGI inspired by the sessions I attend and the conversations I have had. With this is mind, I have picked out what I hope are 5 useful reflections.
- The symposium was infused with a genuine delight (and relief) to be finally gathering together in person with fellow ISNGI enthusiasts.
- There was a genuine appetite amongst all delegates to discuss and enhance understanding of the societal value and purpose of infrastructure systems; as well as the significance of the non-physical, non-traditional, systemic, societal, governance, aspects of infrastructure systems.
- The aspirational focus of UKCRIC’s Scientific Missions for infrastructure systems was well received.
- Infrastructure systems simultaneously enable some types of societal and economic activity whilst disabling other types. Neither the benefits nor constraints of this activity are equally distributed across society. Infrastructure practitioners therefore need to reimagine the purpose of infrastructure.
- The critical importance of formulating positive, engaging and compelling narratives to more effectively communicate the societal value, significance and importance of infrastructure systems; the potential role of infrastructure system in addressing grand societal challenges; and the importance of infrastructure research, resonated strongly with delegates.
For me there was a common theme that can be traced through these key messages emerging from ISNGI 2022.
A bold intergenerational vision of the positive societal, economic and environmental outcomes that infrastructure systems are expected to enable, (and just as significantly, the negative outcomes infrastructure systems must initially avoid exacerbating, and ultimately help transform) is urgently needed.
The diagram below attempts to capture this succinctly.
My research is focussed on complex infrastructure systems as enablers of societally beneficial outcomes and I returned from ISNGI 2022 feeling really enthused that this core message was at the forefront of my fellow delegates thinking.
We must now collaborate (academics, practitioners and policy makers) to formulate, champion and put into practise a bold intergenerational vision of the societal and economic purpose(s) and value of Infrastructure Systems.
Inputs organised by UKCRIC
- Dr Corina Kwami - Sustainable Living Places
- Professor John Beckford - Infrastructure systems for an intelligent nation
- Lord Toby Harris - Systemic Infrastructure Resilience to Strategic Challenges
- Dr Brian Matthews - Building multi-system models of next generation infrastructure on DAFNI. This also included a demonstration of the DAFNI Platform as part of the special session on Modelling, visualisation and simulation
- Dr Simon Smith, University of Edinburgh who presented research on Developing a data-driven framework for assessment of sustainable low carbon transport’.
- Zahra Mahabadi, UCL, who presented research on a review of methodologies for locating electric vehicle charging stations
- Professor Nick Tyler – Organised and chaired two special sessions:
- Dr Tom Dolan – Organised and chaired two special sessions
- Dr Joanne Leach – Guest Editor for an ISNGI 2022 themed Special Issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050) - "Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure for the Next Generation" Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2022
A full list of presentations from the symposium are available on the ISNGI 2022 Website.