28 April 2023 | Innovation | Our Work

View from the top: Meeting the demands of the future

Just last week, myself and Ian Large represented LCRIG at an important workshop held at Birmingham University concerning the consequences of the damage and disruption that roadworks and streetworks cause (e.g., via trenching, road closures). So we could fully investigate how to minimise this disruption via technological innovations, trenchless technologies, keyhole surgery etc.

The workshop was being held to support a project focused on achieving ‘Net Zero’, which is being funded from Lane Rental Charges, reinvested to benefit people and the planet. It is a collaboration between Transport for London, the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (UK), the University of Birmingham & EA Technology. All of these parties were represented so we could draw on our collective wisdom to identify the content for a multi-dimensional ‘design brief’ for streets to guide engineering practices in the future.

Changes to our current approaches are essential if we are to make progress which is founded on new knowledge and understanding as our thinking matures about how to meet the demands of the future such as achieving net zero, changing demographics, continuing austerity and the need to provide for a growing and increasingly urbanised population who have ever-rising expectations of standards and service.

Whilst at the university we had the opportunity to see the world leading National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF) which is a ‘one of its kind’ facility for research, education and training in:

  • Buried infrastructure-ground interaction,
  • Soil stabilisation and improvement,
  • Geophysical sensing,
  • Pipeline detection and condition assessment,
  • Tunnelling,
  • Trenching & trenchless technologies,
  • Structural performance of transport-ground-pipeline systems and green-grey infrastructure interdependencies.

This facility is used by researchers from across the world in addition to many private companies which includes the likes of HS2 who were undertaking some testing there on the day.

It just goes to show what a vital role our academic institutions are playing in reshaping our world.