Developing innovative infrastructure solutions
Announced as part of the UK Government’s spending review, the funding is part of the wider UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).
UKCRIC is a collaboration of fourteen UK universities which aims to provide a knowledge base to ensure the long-term functioning of the UK’s transport systems, energy systems, clean water supplies, waste management, flood defences and the development of SMART infrastructures.
The UKCRIC will apply research to ensure the UK’s infrastructure is resilient and responsive to environmental and economic impacts. Outside national security and medicine, it will be one of the largest collaborative research projects in the UK.
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “From traffic congestion and floods to rising populations, our cities face big challenges that need innovative infrastructure solutions to keep services secure, low-cost, and effective. That’s why, as a One Nation Government, we are investing £138 million in this world-leading UK research network to develop new materials and engineering solutions that will deliver world-class infrastructure up and down the country.”
New urban water facility
In Newcastle, the funding is being used to establish a new state-of-the-art urban water facility at Science Central – Newcastle’s flagship project which brings together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry to create a global centre for sustainable innovation in the heart of the city.
The new facility will enable experimentation and testing of new ‘smart’ technologies and urban flood management features, and will be part of the Urban Sciences Building, set to open in Autumn 2017.
Professor Richard Dawson, in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University, said: “UKCRIC will provide an internationally unique urban flood management facility that will allow us to develop and test new approaches to managing extreme events. The UN climate negotiations in Paris are a timely reminder of the urgent need to develop resilient engineering measures to manage climate change risks.
“Moreover, it will give us the opportunity to integrate these new urban water infrastructure facilities into equivalent urban infrastructure testbeds for energy, transport and ICT already under development as part of the University’s investment on Science Central. This will provide an improved understanding of the critical infrastructure systems that we rely on to improve our health, safety and quality of life.
“Population growth, extreme weather events and changes to the way we live and work are creating new challenges which demand a revolution in our infrastructure thinking if we are to respond in a sustainable manner. The only way this is going to happen is through joined up thinking and doing, of the kind that UKCRIC is set to pioneer.”
The investment will also benefit from collaboration with key Science Central partners such as Northumbrian Water, National Powergrid, the Tyne & Wear Urban Traffic Management Control Centre and Newcastle City Council as well as technology partners that include Siemens, Philips and Zero Carbon Futures.
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