OMEGA Centre invited to participate in proposed G20 Task Force initiative on developing federated digital knowledge platforms for infrastructure development

Centre Director Professor Harry Dimitriou has received an invitation for OMEGA to participate in a proposed G20 Task Force initiative (Task Force on Infrastructure Investment and Financing) to prepare a Policy Brief (more accurately, a policy and action proposal) for G20 consideration, on developing federated digital knowledge platforms for infrastructure development.

Infrastructure development is one of the key priorities for the G20, with establishment of the Global Infrastructure Hub, Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance, G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, and G20 InfraTech agenda. The proposed Task Force Policy Brief, for G20 consideration during the Italian presidency in 2021, looks to accelerate international implementation of recommendations of these initiatives by G20 members. It focuses developing federated digital knowledge platforms for infrastructure development, as one means to promote and appraise shared visions for socially and environmentally sustainable infrastructure development and be a forerunner of ‘Infrastructure 4.0’ – in tune with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The basis of the proposal is that the infrastructure sector remains one of the least innovative and digitalized, plagued by delays, cost overruns, and benefit shortfalls, mainly due to fragmentation and lack of cooperation within the infrastructure development value chain. Integration of the value chain is needed through open and federated digital knowledge platforms applied to (trans)national infrastructure programmes. The Brief will address the issue that typically project development follows linear consecutive phases through planning and delivery (a “waterfall-model”) but each phase is executed independently and has its particular composition of stakeholders, so that a common understanding of the whole process is non-existent by the majority of the relevant stakeholders. Problems in the process are mostly addressed to a specific phase or even sub-phase, and the complete process model is hardly challenged. The Policy Brief will advocate infrastructure development as a complete process from generating project visions to stakeholder values, with shared project goals translated into a governance model enabling effective decision-making processes that support the project lifecycle, including planning, delivery, operations, maintenance and decommissioning. This approach would draw on the multidisciplinary expertise of national and international multi-stakeholder platforms that consist of experts from government, industry, civil society, and academia.

Initial thoughts are that the OMEGA Centre will contribute by (a) developing and adapting its PLMCA framework to assist enhanced inter-stakeholder dialogue in the planning, appraisal and delivery of transnational infrastructure projects (particularly mega transport projects) and (b) promoting a more holistic approach to infrastructure development including emphasis on sustainable development.

The Centre participated in an international workshop in March 2021 which brought together leading global infrastructure and governance experts with the aim to explore the potential to improve Global Infrastructure Development through the establishment of digital collaboration platforms, focusing on 5 themes of Governance, Design, Protocols, Implementation, and Use Cases, with subgroups considering these in detail. Professor Harry Dimitriou and Keith Perry led the sub-group session on Protocols, for which they co-authored and presented a paper on the considerations. The final plenary session concluded with next steps to prepare the Policy Briefing paper for the T20/G20 summit in Italy in the Autumn.

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