Investment in ‘smart’ infrastructure will deliver more for the UK in the future as well as boost economic growth by exporting expertise, according to a report published today by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Infrastructure within the UK is becoming smarter, but barriers preventing further integration and smartening of systems should be overcome to bring many economic and societal benefits.

The Academy’s report, Smart infrastructure: the future, reaches a consensus of what is meant by ‘smart’ infrastructure as well as identifying future opportunities, present applications for smarter technology in different industries and barriers to its success.

Smart infrastructure responds intelligently to changes in its environment, including user demands and other infrastructure, to achieve an improved performance. While ‘smart’ meters are about to be introduced throughout the UK, ‘smart’ infrastructure will reduce journey times, remotely monitor the sick and help in the fight against man-made climate change in the future.

The utilities, transport, water and energy sectors can all benefit from the applications of smart infrastructure, from the use of smart grids, remote control and monitoring to deliver power, to personal smart meters for consumers. However, in order for benefits to be realised, the government should take a long-term view when investing in smart infrastructure.

”Government must create the right environment for investment in smarter technology and recognise that smarter infrastructure, while possibly more expensive in the short term, will deliver more for the nation in the future,” says Dr Martyn Thomas CBE FREng of Martyn Thomas Associates, who chairs the Academy’s smart infrastructure working group.

“If the Government ensures that all major infrastructure projects include a data capture element and invest in smarter infrastructure, the UK will get better infrastructure and skills that can be exported to boost economic growth.”

As data is at the heart of smart technology, the delicate issue of data ownership will become important once smart infrastructure is widely deployed sand there is an explosion in data generated. However, the use of data will provide reliable decision-making tools to benefit individuals, organisations and governments alike to meet users’ future needs and absorb future technologies.

Smart infrastructure: the future (536.05 KB)

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Katherine Macgregor at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0623
Email: Katherine Macgregor