The UK’s ability to react to increased energy demands and climate change, as well as general infrastructures like housing and roads, has just received a £1.2 million boost awarded to the Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI). The funding was awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Resource-Only Strategic Equipment (ROSE), and it will be led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Scientific Computing Department.
DAFNI is a new platform in the UK to bring together different data sources and high-performance computing. All this is to be done in a collaborative system, allowing researchers to be quicker and more efficient, with a more extensive research scope and developing online collaborations with other groups.
Speaking at DAFNI’s official launch, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), announced the funding. “There is a continuous need for the UK to adapt to changing environments and plan for the infrastructure demands of the future. With major investment in infrastructure planned for the coming years, it is crucial that we make the best possible decisions about how to meet the needs of communities across the UK. DAFNI has a major role to play by providing the high-quality data and analytical tools needed to design infrastructure that works with everyone and for everyone. It is a prime example of how transformative technologies can be harnessed to support an inclusive and sustainable knowledge economy.”
After four years of development, the DAFNI platform is finally ready to provide data services to the scientific community researching infrastructure systems. It is hoped this will support complex and detailed modelling studies in universities across the UK and serve to inform government local and national policies on a wide range of areas, including housing needs, new roads, transport links and flood defences. “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?”, added Professor Jim Hall, Chair of the DAFNI governance board.
In practical terms, DAFNI is a purpose-built platform managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and funded initially by a grant from the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC). This new investment will allow DAFNI to support research in engineering and related fields, focusing on sustainable projects, including the UK centre for Greening Finance and Investment and the OpenCLIM climate impact modelling framework.
“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”, said Dr Brian Matthews, STFC Scientific Computing Department and DAFNI lead for this next phase. “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.”