This article was originally published by TransportTimes and has been reproduced with permission.
The TIES Living Lab programme
Over the past two years, together with Dr Doug Forbes from Whole Life Consultants Ltd and the University of Dundee, Professor Lamine Mahdjoubi from the University of the West of England, Bristol, and sustainability expert Clare Ollerenshaw from Accelar, we have started the process of developing protocols for data collection and a centralised repository for storing data to help deliver transport infrastructure better as part of the TIES Living Lab programme.
We think this will be game-changing.
Measuring value for money
The UK is embarking on an infrastructure investment plan that will see something like £650 billion invested over the next decade. That is a once-in-a generation opportunity not only to transform the public sphere, but to re-shape our understanding of what environmentally and socially responsive infrastructure projects look like.
Every large infrastructure project faces efficiency challenges. We want to be sure we are going to get value for money from our investment. Given that each infrastructure project is unique and will often involve unforeseeable challenges – how do we measure value for money?
Unlocking value across industry sectors
The problem is that, once you get beyond relatively simple concepts like cost, the question of what to measure and how to measure it in large projects becomes extremely complex. This is especially true when trying to compare across industry sectors. We know that there are important lessons to be learned from comparing major projects, but we are frustrated in our attempts to extract those lessons because, a lot of the time, it is as if they are written in different, mutually unintelligible languages. If we could find a reliable translator, we could unlock a world of value.
That is the challenge that my team at the University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) is trying to solve. Or to start on the road to a solution at any rate. We are one of 25 partners working on the TIES (Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy) Living Lab project and we've been working closely with colleagues from the University of Dundee, the University of the West of England, Whole Life Consultants Ltd and Accelar, a company specialising in clean growth transition, to try to lift the lid on the vast reserves of infrastructure project data and to uncover its secrets.