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The relatively slow pace of infrastructure innovation and development is conditioned by the sheer size, complexity and uniqueness of each project. In contrast, other engineering domains create smaller, large production volume products. These lend themselves to many cycles of rapid prototyping during their innovation and development stages. Consequently, in comparison to infrastructure research and development, in these engineering domains, innovation can progress quickly. It becomes a crucial competitive capability.
However, infrastructure innovation is on the cusp of transformational change.
The convergent maturity of many new enabling technologies and capabilities in the IT, sensor, actuation domains and, crucially, of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of systems thinking and practice and of social learning, will enable future infrastructure innovation to benefit from rapid learning about prototype behaviour.
This lecture will outline the multiple, harmonised, learning journeys that must be travelled by the infrastructure profession if it is to realise the high value potential of these new techniques.
The ideas are at the heart of the concept for the £138m UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) announced in the March 2015 Budget.
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