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BEIS launches consultation on national cyber-physical infrastructure


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation on the national cyber-physical infrastructure (CPI).

It is addressing issues in the ecosystem of increasingly connected digital and physical systems, with the aim of accelerating innovation in the field.

BEIS said that advanced cyber-physical systems that sit across the digital and physical worlds are increasingly part of our everyday lives and economy. They cover a range of purposes including reducing congestion in urban traffic systems and planning responses to extreme weather events for critical infrastructure.

It involves several technologies – including artificial intelligence, robotics and synthetic environments – and said it marks a step change in national productivity, with the means to adapt and repurpose at pace.

The consultation is exploring the opportunities and challenges presented by the increasingly connected application of the systems, and how ecosystems could help UK innovators to reduce cost and risk to rapidly prototype, test, develop and implement ideas.

The document says core elements of developing the CPI would be shared building blocks and interoperability of the technologies.

Forming ecosystems

“Much like the internet, this would not be a single, centralised system. Instead, ecosystems of connected systems would form upon which new products, services and business models could be built,” it says.

“But this is not an inevitability. There are significant barriers to the emergence of such an ecosystem and particular risks of silos developing if left solely to market forces.”

The consultation has been informed by engagement with over 100 organisations to date supported by Digital Catapult, and builds upon the Robotics Growth Partnership’s recently published independent Vision for Cyber-Physical Infrastructure.

Science Minister George Freeman commented: “The UK is emerging from the last few turbulent years with a more resilient and sustainable economic model – putting science, research and innovation at the heart of our post-Brexit vision for Global Britain’s role in the world.

“Increasingly, advanced and connected digital and physical technologies are providing us with new tools to help us better predict and respond to future global challenges; drive UK leadership in science and research; and better commercialise innovations.

“This consultation is a key step to realising these benefits for the UK, and I look forward to receiving guiding challenges and insights from the community.”

BEIS said a national capability in CPI would build upon several other national strategies including the National Data Strategy, National Cyber Strategy and National AI Strategy.

The consultation will be open until 11 May.

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