Spring 2017 update from ITRC-MISTRAL - 3 job vacancies, research news and our work with policymakers feature in this issue.
1. Research focus - detailing demographic data
2. First steps towards NISMOD v2.0
3. ITRC-MISTRAL output update
4. Lloyd's Prize for ITRC researcher
UNOPS/ITRC-MISTRAL infrastructure development in Palestine
6. UK's digital communications: workshop conclusions
7. Implications of 5G roll-out
8. National Infrastructure Assessment - our evidence
9. Job vacancies
10. Forthcoming events


1. Research focus - detailing demographic data

To achieve the ambitious aims of ITRC-MISTRAL, we need more detailed information about households. ITRC-MISTRAL researcher, Dr Nik Lomax from the University of Leeds, works with demographic data to provide the high-resolution information essential to planning for future infrastructure demand.
Dr Lomax’s work takes standard UK census and other data to identify household characteristics, e.g. age structure, and uses this information to generate synthetic data about UK households using microsimulation. This provides a realistic representation of the population, even though it doesn’t contain information about real individuals. Dr Lomax said: “Adding further layers of information, such as likely changes to policy, technological advances or economic development, makes this synthetic data a valuable resource when planning future services. Colleagues at Newcastle University will downscale the data further to allocate households to the individual building level.”
ITRC-MISTRAL’s modelling will enable a richer insight into changing demand for infrastructure and a better understanding of where and when critical interactions between infrastructure types might arise. By exploring different future scenarios with decision-makers, they can make informed choices about investing resources or making policy interventions. ITRC is already working with one stakeholder to develop detailed regional analyses.
Over the summer, ITRC-MISTRAL’s researchers are planning to push ahead to producing high-resolution demographic projections, and Dr Lomax’s team are recruiting a new research fellow to drive this work forward.  

2. First steps towards NISMOD v2.0

Modellers from the ITRC-MISTRAL consortium took part in a seven-day hackathon in February. They were developing the prototype of the next version of NISMOD – the National Infrastructure Model developed in the first phase of ITRC. NISMOD has been widely used to assess infrastructure systems – including proposals for HS2, and a National Needs Assessment led by the Institution of Civil Engineers – and version two will extend its application from national to a local level.

The hackathon was an opportunity to bring together early-stage modelling for each of the infrastructure sectors (energy, transport, digital communications, water and solid waste) and test these within a new integrating framework – smif (system modelling infrastructure framework). Smif enables the sector-specific models to interact with each other, particularly in the way that they handle temporal and spatial information, and it represents a critical first step in the development of NISMOD v2.0.

All the hard work prior to and during the hackathon paid off, and test data demonstrated that Smif was working as planned. Development work will continue on NISMOD v2.0 within ITRC, but in the meantime smif is now available to download (released under the open source MIT licence).  

3. ITRC-MISTRAL output update

Professor Jim Hall, Principal Investigator on ITRC-MISTRAL, prepared a short summary of ITRC’s achievements for a local authority briefing earlier this year. It proved so useful, that we’ve now added it to our website, and we’re planning to do an update later in the year.


4. Lloyd's Science of Risk Prize for ITRC researcher

Late last year, Dr Raghav Pant, Senior Postdoctoral Researcher at ITRC-MISTRAL received the Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize 2016. The prize was awarded for a research paper that explored how infrastructure systems modelling can help businesses to improve their infrastructure risk management.  

working with partners

5. UNOPS/ITRC-MISTRAL on infrastructure development in Palestine

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has been working with ITRC-MISTRAL to help to develop infrastructure planning in Palestine. Last month, ITRC researchers Dr Matt Ives and Dr Scott Thacker joined a special one-day event to present the UNOPS Evidence-based Infrastructure Development Framework (EBIDF) to senior government officials and infrastructure providers. Palestine’s Minister of Public Works and Housing, Mr Mufeed Al Hasayneh, said that the discussion would help to bring “an effective and innovative plan to challenges such as population growth, and climate change”.

6. UK's digital communications: our workshop conclusions

Our first workshop on digital communications was held at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in February. We were pleased that it attracted over 40 experts from the fixed, mobile, satellite and wireless communication sectors. With a mix of government, academic and industry presentations, it provoked interesting discussions in three interactive sessions. The discussion was wide-ranging, and included
  • How to address current gaps in fixed network provision
  • The need for more capacity and coverage in mobile networks
  • Examples of how ITRC’s modelled outputs for digital infrastructure might be used (e.g. exploring future scenarios, planning for expanded connectivity, testing resilience to multiple/single points of failure).
The workshop discussions will contribute to ITRC-MISTRAL’s ongoing work in this area.

7. Implications of 5G roll-out

ITRC has been considering the costs of 5G rollout, with its promise of faster mobile services, in a paper for the National Infrastructure Commission. ITRC-MISTRAL researcher Edward Oughton at the University of Cambridge co-authored the report, which concluded that providing comprehensive 5G access would be prohibitively expensive, although investment in 5G services for urban and suburban areas would be viable, based on current market structures.  

8. National Infrastructure Assessment - ITRC-MISTRAL submits evidence

One of the benefits of ITRC-MISTRAL’s approach is our ability to draw on expertise from a range of disciplines. This proved invaluable when we responded to the recent consultation on next year’s the National Infrastructure Assessment. Our evidence was comprehensive, taking in transport, digital communications, energy, water and wastewater, flood risk management, solid waste and cross-cutting issues. You can see our submission on our website (pdf).  

9. job vacancies

ITRC-MISTRAL currently has three vacancies, two based at the University of Oxford and one based at the University of Leeds.

Research Fellow in Demographic Estimation and Forecasting

This is a full-time post, funded for 3 years. The successful candidate will be responsible for generating synthetic estimates of household composition and demographic attributes and for the future projections of household composition. These projections will be used to explore future household infrastructure demand in different social, economic and policy scenarios. Closing date for applications is Sunday 26 March.

Infrastructure Network Analyst

This is a 2-year, full-time post. The successful applicant will hold a PhD (or near completion) or have equivalent research experience of quantified systems simulation modelling, network analysis and/or risk analysis. The closing date for applications in Monday 21 April.

Research Software Developer

This a 3-year, full-time post for a candidate with experience of software design and implementation, including security, testing, version control and documentation. The closing date for applications is Monday 21 April.

10. Forthcoming events

InnovateUK Future Infrastructure Systems, 22 March 2017, London

This event will focus on the integration of systems information and the complex nature of the engineering required to build and deliver real-time information services at scale. Dr Matt Ives of ITRC-MISTRAL is one of the expert speakers.

Date for your diary - Decision-making under deep uncertainty conference, 13-15 November 2017, Oxford

Key partners in this event will include the World Bank, Rand Corporation and the University of Delft. It will aim to bring together practitioners and researchers. For more information about this event, please contact

Follow on Twitter  |  Forward to Friend 
Copyright © 2017 ITRC, All rights reserved.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp
unsubscribe from this list   update subscription preferences