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NIC to explore emerging technologies


The government has commissioned the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to conduct a study into how new technology can improve infrastructure productivity.

Although the government insists emerging technologies have the potential to enhance infrastructure management, it needs guidance on identifying the most appropriate areas for development.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has sent a letter to the NIC asking for advice on which technologies have the greatest potential, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and artificial intelligence.

The letter comes as the chancellor revealed his first Autumn Statement yesterday (23 November) in which he called on the NIC to make its recommendations on the nation’s future infrastructure needs.

“Innovation and infrastructure are at the heart of the government’s economic and industrial strategy, and emerging technologies have the potential to radically improve the way we manage our infrastructure,” states the letter.

“That is why I am asking you to conduct a study to identify which new technologies have the greatest potential for improving the productivity of our infrastructure, and what steps government should take to support the deployment of these technologies.”

The NIC will identify where trial approaches could be appropriate, as well as specific actions the government should consider in supporting the growth of new technologies.

The letter stresses the study should be closely linked to the NIC’s work in assessing the country’s long-term infrastructure needs for the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA).

“From electric vehicles to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence‎, the technologies of the future could have an enormous impact on the UK’s economic infrastructure and the ways in which rely upon it,” said NIC deputy chair Sir John Armitt.

“As new technologies develop, Britain must do everything it can to ensure that we are best placed to reap the benefits – and that includes incorporating innovative new systems and practices into the infrastructure that keeps our country moving.

“Britain should seek to lead the world in harnessing the emerging technologies that can make our lives easier and our economy more productive. This study will consider how we make that happen.”

The report is expected to be published by the end of 2017.

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