The United Kingdom has begun developing an £8 million data analytics facility in order to analyze its infrastructure and fix problems in systems such as energy and water. Dubbed the Data and Analytic Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI), the facility will be built near Oxford at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. DAFNI will be designed and developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
The facility will use computational systems, hardware and software platforms for data analytics and database simulation and visitation systems. Officials will analyze communications, energy, water and transport networks in order to spot vulnerabilities, improve performance and prioritize workloads.
The facility will be in development for four years, while smaller projects will begin immediately. In fact, the first project is currently underway. NISMOD (National Infrastrucure Systems Model) is the first national infrastructure system-of-systems modelling platform and database, which will include:
- NISMOD-LP: Long term performance of interdependent infrastructure systems
- NISMOD-RV: Risks and vulnerability in national infrastructure systems
- NISMOD-RD: Regional development and how it adapts to infrastructure provision
- NISMOD-DB: Infrastructure networks, demand and performance
- NISMOD-INT: A generic framework for international applications of NISMOD
DAFNI is only a small but integral part of the £138 million project called UKCRIC (UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities). The project will see new facilities in 11 universities which will provide essential services such as energy, transport, digital communications, water supply, flood protection, and wastewater and solid waste collection, treatment and disposal.
What does all of this mean?
For starters, it means that big data and advanced analytics are here and they are here to stay. It’s no secret that the private sector largely drives change which governments then adopt. Governments often don’t possess the capital or flexibility to invest large sums in unproven technology. That the UK is willing to put so much investment into analytics underlines the significant benefit of analytics technology – gathering and analyzing data at a scale and speed that humans could never achieve. Then, using that analysis to make actionable changes and pivots based on real life data.
What it next means is that the Internet of Things has arrived. The UK is about to, for all intents and purposes, create an Internet of Things government infrastructure. In order to gather and analyze data, the infrastructure itself must be fit with sensors that gather data. It’s a rudimentary IoT world that they are building. I say rudimentary only partially tongue-in-cheek – if we postulate on what IoT could do, we see a world where platforms are communicating to fix problems without any human intervention whatsoever, and that is not what UKCRIC will accomplish by 2020.
Finally, it means you no longer have any excuses. If the UK can provide analytics for its entire infrastructure, surely you can provide analytics for your corporate boardroom. Either way the result is the same – gathering true data in order learn more and make better decisions. For the UK it might mean replacing old sewage lines or repairing electric wires in rural communities. For you it might mean splitting the boardroom in two because it’s only ever used at half capacity. Either way, analytics will provide the data that will justify these decisions.
I’m very interested to see how things move on from here. Full disclosure, I think we should hook everything up, analyze everything, and get the IoT revolution up and running ASAP. (Provision: we need to figure out how to properly secure webcams, thermostats, and even children’s toys before we can make it there). However, what the UK is doing is a huge step toward the future, and if they screw it up I’m over here in America so no harm no foul for me.