“Groundbreaking” software project to improve UK resilience to extreme events

07 July 2017


DAFNI will offer unique software for studying complex urban infrastructure systems such as power networks.

A powerful computer system capable of revolutionising the UK’s ability to plan for extreme events, such as flooding and power outages, is being designed as part of a government scheme to make the nation’s infrastructure more resilient.

To make the nation’s vital systems more adaptable to such changing circumstances, the government has invested £138 million in the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) project. 

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is also providing £125 million of funding for UKCRIC. 

It is estimated that inadequate infrastructure costs the UK £2 million a day, and extreme events can cost hundreds of millions more.

UKCRIC will see new what’s described a “state-of-the-art” facilities established at 11 universities. These systems will provide essential services such as energy, transport, digital communications, water supply, flood protection, and waste water and solid waste collection, treatment and disposal.

As part of UKCRIC, £8 million has been invested in the Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI). This is being designed and developed over the next four years by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at its Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire. 

DAFNI will provide access to massive secure data storage, fast computer performance and the next-generation in systems visualisation. It will offer globally unique software which will allow researchers to study complex infrastructure systems in cities, such as sewage systems or transportation networks.

It’s claimed this will create “unprecedented” opportunities to transform infrastructure services and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Working with partners, STFC will lead the design and development of DAFNI software, hardware and data system technology stacks. The secure platform will include the next generation National Infrastructure Database, the modelling, simulation and visualisation facility, and DAFNI compute infrastructure.

Professor Jim Hall from Oxford University, the principal investigator for the project, says: “DAFNI will put the UK in a unique position to analyse the infrastructure systems upon which we all depend, helping to improve performance and pinpoint vulnerabilities. 

“The future of our economy, society and environment depends on the right choices being made for energy and transport systems, digital communications, water supply and flood risk management.” 

Hall added that over the coming years, the project will bring together business, government bodies and research organisations to collaboratively deliver the unique national capability.