southampton-infrastructure-labThe last few years have seen a growing appreciation of what the Internet of Things can do to create smart cities.  By 2050 it’s estimated that 7 billion people will live in urban areas.  This has coincided with a rise in connected devices, with Gartner predicting that there will be around 21 billion such devices (excluding smartphones and computers) by 2020.

Making better use of this technology is therefore incredibly important to deliver the kind of lifestyles that people strive for in modern Britain.  We have already seen the creation of the Future Cities Catapult, which uses things such as data science, the Internet of Things, economic analysis, predictive models and user-centred design to address city challenges.

It’s an area we hope to focus on and the creation of a new national centre hopes to transform the UK’s major infrastructure sectors in areas such as transport, energy systems, clean water supplies, waste management and flood defences.

UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities network

Southampton is one of 14 universities that are working with partners in industry and government on the £138m UK Collaboration for Research in Infrastructure and Cities network (UKCRIC).

The network was announced in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement and we aim to play a central part.  We are building a £36m National Infrastructure Laboratory that will be based at the Boldrewood Innovation Campus.

The Laboratory will be home to state of the art teaching and research facilities in areas such as heavy structures, geomechanics, solid mechanics and infrastructure engineering.  It will be used to develop a new level of understanding into the behaviour of large structures, especially in rail, infrastructure and maritime engineering.

Professor William Powrie, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, said: “This significant funding will enable us to grow our world-leading research, teaching and enterprise activities, and to complete the development of our Boldrewood Innovation Campus.

“The addition of the new building will make this a flagship campus for the University and for the region, enabling us to develop the new knowledge needed for meaningful advances at national and international levels in infrastructure engineering and rail transport – both major areas of expertise and specialism for Southampton.

“It will also allow us to educate more of the imaginative, versatile, high-quality engineers that the country so desperately needs, in an environment where knowledge is created and exploited, rather than merely passed on.”

Law company Nabarro recently released their Infrastructure Index, which placed the UK number one in a global league table that explores a range of infrastructure related metrics, including innovation and investment.  The development of UKCRIC will hopefully ensure the UK retains its predominant position in such indices.