The immense opportunity for digital economy-style value increase in Australia’s Infrastructure sector requires a new paradigm of decision making engaged with technology innovation, ubiquitous information and insightful fact-based optimisation. The value-for-money, cost savings and infrastructure solutions Australia is looking for will be enhanced through leadership to spur the uptake of existing and new technologies, methods and skills, and the development of an uptake-ready environment for the future.
The immense opportunity for digital economy-style value increase in Australia’s Infrastructure sector requires a new paradigm of decision making engaged with technology innovation, ubiquitous information and insightful fact-based optimisation.
The value-for-money, cost savings and infrastructure solutions Australia is looking for will be enhanced through leadership to spur the uptake of existing and new technologies, methods and skills, and the development of an uptake-ready environment for the future.
1. Discussion & Opportunities
Significant technological innovations have taken place in recent years in fields such as planning and optimisation, machine learning, algorithms, and sensor technology, which, intelligently combined, allow for significantly reduced planning cycles, reduced maintenance costs, prevention of incidents and sometimes catastrophic failure, and better asset/resource usage. We believe that Australia can establish processes that will lead to a better articulation of existing and planned critical infrastructure in this country. This requires the infrastructure stakeholders in government, industry and the research community to collaborate more closely. Better insights into the current and forecasted critical infrastructure are needed to accelerate planning, optimise their usage, maintenance, lifespan, and replacement. We need to articulate forecasts of demand growth and pressure points being placed on critical infrastructure during the next 5-50 years as we seek to achieve national productivity goals. This can ultimately lead to prioritisation of investment to ensure infrastructure is in place to meet forecasts. A collaborative effort is required by all stakeholders to understand and communicate the socio-economic drivers, productivity goals and apply the technological innovations to accelerate planning, improve usage, reduce maintenance, increase asset life, and plan for growth and renewal. Infrastructure ICT proponents need to truly understand stakeholders and their drivers and develop a narrative to demonstrate compelling ICT value propositions that demonstrate business & community benefits. Scalable point solutions with early adopters will lead the way to building collaboration and partnerships that will further leverage & influence the ecosystem. At the foundation, however, will be the education of future leaders who embrace ICT.
2. Examples & Insights
We believe it is worthwhile and necessary to support the progression of smart infrastructure with concrete examples of projects. These examples could focus on
- Smart Infrastructure, such as structural health monitoring of critical infrastructure, and predictive maintenance. Bridges, Roads, Rail, Water Pipes, Electricity Grids
- Intelligent Fleet Logistics: Optimising transport to ultimately increase customer satisfaction and inclusion in remote and rural areas. Traffic and CO2 reduction.
- Intelligent Transport Systems. Better use of existing infrastructure. Traffic forecasting, faster reaction to incidents, understanding of freight movement, reduction of traffic jams.
- Immersive modelling, virtualisation, simulation and optimisation, to inform infrastructure and resilience planning & testing (e.g. water flow, emergency response)
Interesting Facts and Insights
Water Pipes Australia has 140,000 km of water pipes in operation and around 7,000 critical breaks per year. Critical (≥300 mm) main failures typically have significant social and economic consequences in the order of $1.4Bn per year with communities impacted by flooding and traffic disruption
Container Control can remove up to 1/3 of targeted truck movements thus reducing congestion and CO2 emissions in urban areas. The result is less congestion on the roads and more capacity available for trucks that move containers with content (rather than empty containers), which ultimately leads to increased productivity.
Water Flow Real-time water information networks and water-flow modeling at irrigation channel, catchment and basin levels, have been deployed in VIC in field tests for which the results showed a 27% improvement in water productivity and 38% improvement in gross margin for dairy and pasture. Victoria’s water users showed a 74% improvement in economic water use efficiency and 73% improvement in gross returns, arising largely from market quality improvements in the fruit produced, in horticulture Roads A change in the traffic flow algorithm on the M1 in Melbourne had the capacity effect of adding the equivalent of three lanes to the road. Vehicle flow increased from 6,400 vehicles/hour to 10,400 vehicles/hour. Accidents reduced by 40%.
2013 Infrastructure Recommendations
1. Lighthouse projects
To establish and promote lighthouse projects (see some initial examples above) to promote the art of the possible in smart infrastructures across Australia to inform the relevant stakeholders.
2. Open dialogue
To enter into a dialogue with relevant bodies, such as Infrastructure Australia, to explore ICT opportunities in infrastructure projects
3. System-thinking approach to tackle problems
4. “Computers, not concrete”
1) Ensure prior to construction that existing infrastructure is being optimally used 2) Recognise that ICT can improve new infrastructure and make it part of the original design consideration
5. Future infrastructure leaders digitally aware
Equip government infrastructure bodies with adequate ICT knowledge. Develop future leaders to embrace ICT.
6. Open Data
We would like to encourage all stakeholders to continue and accelerate their open data initiatives AND actively follow the insights and solutions that industry and academia will produce to incorporate the new state of the art as a requirement into planning processes, and where applicable into building codes and private/public procurement.
7. Public Private Partnerships
We recommend pursuing public-private partnerships in multi-stakeholder challenges, such as port optimisation, which require for a collective to co-operatively optimise. Specifically, we recommend to:-
- Create a national Port Community System to allow visibility into the port supply chains and reduce costs for 80% of the economy that imports/exports goods & services,
- Create urban mobility models for each capital city, allowing better urban planning to support growth, interaction of transport (people) and logistics (freight),
- Execute on backlog of articulated productivity initiatives