The latest ISNGI conference in London heard that the idea of ‘consulting’ on infrastructure projects is dead. ‘Engagement’ is the new idea.

So the three-day conference received SMART’s Digital Living Lab with enthusiasm, as an example of the facility’s focus on innovative community programs, and not just on infrastructure monitoring.

SMART researchers made a strong contribution to the event, with four presentations highlighting its broad-ranging research on infrastructure from system engineering to economics and governance.

Vice Chancellor, Paul Wellings and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Judy Raper attended the conference on the second day.

Professor Pascal Perez’s provocative keynote on smart cities – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – generated lively reactions and discussions.

Another highlight came from Professor Brian Collins, who summarized the latest achievements of the recently launch UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).

This is a 250 million pound national initiative to boost shared university-based research facilities and enhance collaborations between public research and the private sector.

The UK is fast-tracking the creation or upgrading of a series of state-of-the-art facilities that will support the next generation infrastructure in the UK.

Lord Robert Mair explained to the conference about the importance of engagement when planning infrastructure projects, throughout the lifecycle of the project, and not just at conception.

Here, the rise of innovative tools and smart infrastructure helps to facilitate ongoing engagement.

SMART operating officer Tania Brown gave a presentation on the Digital Living Lab, launched earlier this year.

‘Many presentations highlighted the Internet of Things, and the use of sensors to monitor infrastructure pinch points and respond to network issues,’ she said.

‘Overwhelmingly, the opportunity to engage and collaborate with our international peers in the next generation infrastructure domain will lead to more tangible research partnerships.

‘Many attendees are adding Wollongong to the next Australian itinerary.’

The first International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure was held at the University of Wollongong in 2013, convened by five leading universities in the domain of future infrastructure solutions: University College London (UK), Oxford University (UK), Delft University of Technology (NL), University of Wollongong (AU) and Virginia University of Technology (US).