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Research council provides £1.2 million for DAFNI facility


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has provided £1.2m million for the further development the Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI).

The announcement has come with the formal launch of DAFNI, which has just completed a four-year research phase backed by £8 million from the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).

DAFNI is a computational platform that provides analytics and data science capabilities for the development of the UK’s national infrastructure and is managed by scientific computing department of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

It said the new investment will support its operational growth and provide scope to increase usage and a capability to support research in the ESPRC engineering programme and related fields. This will involve the development of a digital blueprint of UK infrastructure services, multidisciplinary research across infrastructure sectors, and the development of new partnerships in government and industry.

The move will also support a new phase of training and development for infrastructure engineers.

Game changer

Professor Jim Hall, chair of the DAFNI governance board, said: “Following four years of development, the DAFNI platform is now ready to deliver game changing computational and data services to the community researching into infrastructure systems, allowing more complex and more detailed modelling to take place in universities across the UK, helping to inform government policy at local and national model, on areas from decisions on housing stock type and size to new road and transport links, flood defences and climate change mitigation measures.

“It allows researchers in fields such as transport, energy, population and flooding to more quickly and accurately analyse and research questions such as: ‘How can we protect a city centre from river flooding?’ ‘Where should we site a new railway station?’ ‘How can we better model climate and environmental impacts on our economy, society and infrastructure?’”

Dr Brian Matthews of the STFC scientific computing department and DAFNI lead, commented: “The DAFNI platform offers UK researchers a place to share their work and collaborate to study rich scenarios where changes in one area affect other areas. This might be the impact of climate change on the flooding in cities, or how new railways might affect where people live and work. 

“We are looking forward to the opportunity in this new grant, to expand the number of researchers who are able to use the platform in new and innovative ways and to extend the functionality we can offer to those researchers. 

“We are particularly excited to work with students in centres for doctoral training, enabling the digital expertise of the next generation of researchers in engineering and environment. Their skills will be vital so that the UK’s researchers can really address many of the UK’s challenges ahead such as net zero carbon emissions and rebuilding the economy after Covid-19.”

Image: A digital twin of Sheffield, one of the projects to emerge from DAFNI

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