This special issue is aimed at the rapidly expanding international research community seeking to understand the complex interactions between infrastructure, the population it serves and the physical and economic environments in which it functions, as well as the technological transitions on which it depends. Infrastructure systems are the fabric of modern societies, deeply embedded as they are in their spatial, social and economic structures. Our current challenge is to turn them into enablers rather than inhibitors of long-term sustainable development. This challenge is concerned with all types of infrastructure (such as transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications, housing, social infrastructure and green infrastructure) and the web of interdependencies and interconnections that collectively make up the physical, economic and social systems of cities and regions, and which in many ways dictate our lifestyles.
In many countries, infrastructure is benefiting from innovation in technologies (from smart metering to intelligent transport systems) and processes (from local renewable energy generation to congestion charging). Despite undeniable advances, much remains to be said about equity or resilience issues associated with these innovative solutions. For example, smart technologies have leapt ahead, often leaving many customers behind. Potential synergies and trade-offs between various utility sectors are still poorly understood. In many parts of the world, infrastructure has also proven to be vulnerable to climate change, weather and other extremes. New thinking about how to design, manage, organise and deliver infrastructure projects is required to improve performance, drive innovation, promote collaboration, encourage sustainable lifestyles, capture lessons and deliver more successful outcomes than are currently being achieved.
We invite original contributions stemming from a “complex systems” perspective that extends beyond the traditional disciplinary and sectoral perspectives in academic research on infrastructure. These multi-disciplinary contributions are sought to explore how the future of our infrastructure systems will not only be determined by new technologies, reshaping physical networks and services, but also by new institutions that will decide whether and how new technologies and services are adopted. In particular, relevant contributions will aim at enhancing our understanding of how effective service delivery co-evolves with planning and management processes, as well as socio-demographic transitions. In other words, we seek contributions aiming to answer the question of how to design complex infrastructure systems as agents of change rather than engineering artefacts.
Given the extreme relevance and complexity of the topic, this issue aims to bring together multi-disciplinary contributions from the following research fields: economics, engineering, human geography, information science, public policy, sociology and urbanism. Senior managers, policy makers, practitioners and the wider community of scholars are the targeted audience. Considering the need for a holistic approach, theoretical and applied research-oriented papers, as well as case-based or general framework contributions, are all welcome, so long as the content can be understood by the target audience and the scope is adequately broad.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Advanced analytics, knowledge management and smart data capture for infrastructure systems, including model-based systems engineering and machine learning methods
- Modelling and simulation for integrated infrastructure planning and management, including agent-based modelling, operation research and system dynamics modelling.
- Using community feedback for better infrastructure design, procurement and operation, including geo-social intelligence, participatory modelling and collective design
- Economic assessment and prioritisation of infrastructure, including cost benefit analysis and value-based assessment
- Innovative governance arrangements for better delivery, management and replacement of infrastructure systems, including various forms of public-private partnerships
- Service benchmarking of infrastructure systems, including operations management and performance benchmarking
- Sustainability and resilience of infrastructure systems, including asset life cycle assessment, risk analysis and technological transition modelling
Submission of manuscripts: 15 June, 2015