New modelling tools to help governments and decisions makers minimise the risks from infrastructure failures

We live in an increasingly interconnected world supported by infrastructure networks, including energy, telecommunications, transport, water and waste.

Dr Raghav PantDr Raghav Pant
When these networks fail, for example during climate-related extreme events, the impacts can propagate across society and the economy, and around the world. While policy makers in the UK and worldwide have highlighted the need for systems approaches to enhance infrastructure resilience, they have struggled to grasp the interactions between infrastructures, people and economy. Given scarce resources to invest in resilience of infrastructure networks, decision makers often struggle to know which are the points of greatest vulnerability and how they should prioritise investments.

A research team at Oxford has, over the last eight years, transformed the theory and practice of infrastructure systems analysis by creating methodologies and tools that provide evidence of the interconnected impacts of infrastructure network failures. Led by Prof. Jim Hall’s multiple EPSRC-funded projects Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) and Multi-Scale Infrastructure Systems Analytics (MISTRAL), the risk team at the University of Oxford has created some of the world’s first data-driven models of interconnected infrastructure networks and their socio-economic risks from external hazard events. 

The risk research team, led by Dr. Raghav Pant, has produced a suite of computer codes and visualisations with real-world data to identify, quantify and assess interdependencies and risks in Britain’s infrastructure networks. They have provided evidence to, among others, Infrastructure UK, National Infrastructure Commission, Department for Transport, Environmental Agency and High Speed 2. Similar modelling capabilities have been developed to identify interconnected infrastructure vulnerabilities in New Zealand and China. Further World Bank funded studies on multi-modal transport networks in Vietnam, Tanzania and Argentina have resulted in creating novel data and tools for informing governments on how to quantify systemic network risks and prioritise investments towards enhancing the climate resilience of key transport lifelines in these countries.

The cutting-edge data analytics and innovative methodologies of their research are now catering to the growing global need for data-driven models and tools for infrastructure risk and resilience assessment, which is an ever-increasing concern for policy makers and planners who face growing challenges from a changing climate and uncertain world.

The ITRC/MISTRAL program is funded by the EPSRC, with several smaller projects funded by National Infrastructure Commission, HS2, Department for Transport and World Bank.