Based at the Bartlett School of Planning (BSP) at University College London (UCL), The OMEGA Centre for Mega Infrastructure and Development currently comprises a team of Research Associates under the Directorship of Professor Harry T. Dimitriou based in the UK, supported by an international network of associates similarly engaged in various research and practice aspects of the planning, appraisal and delivery of mega projects world-wide. Originally a centre for the study of mega transport projects (MTPs), the OMEGA Centre has recently altered its name to reflect the wider field of mega infrastructure development across all sectors.
Drawing on the Centre’s initial focus on MTPs, mega infrastructure projects (or as is often the case, programmes of projects) are deemed large-scale complex investments typically involving multiple stakeholders that possess certain generic features that distinguish them from other scales of infrastructure development. While acknowledging that such projects are not determined alone by their construction cost, the Centre has adopted a minimum US$ 1 billion price-tag (at 1990 prices) as an indicative bottom-line feature. This position is reflective of the Centre’s original research on MTPS that frequently found such mega projects possessed a high political profile and were perceived as critical agents of change at local, regional, national and/or trans-national scales of development, particularly in urban and metropolitan areas.
The OMEGA Centre was set-up with funding from the Volvo Research & Education Foundations (VREF) in 2005 to study decision-making in the planning, appraisal and delivery of MTPs with a view to systematically examining how ‘fit for purpose’ such investments are in the face of challenges of the 21st century. This agenda has now been extended to include mega infrastructure investments across all sectors. As in the case of the study of MTPs, the overriding mission of the Centre remains to help establish generically what determines the ‘success’ (or otherwise) of such investments, especially in terms of how resilient they are in addressing the decision-making complexities, uncertainties, risks and opportunities they encounter both within the boundaries of the projects themselves and in the environments external to the project that provide their decision-making contexts.