Fact #1: Existing networks are operating at sub-standard –if not unsafe– service levels (European Commission, 2014; ASCE, 2016). Deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on global economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. At the same time the world strives to secure infrastructure maintenance funding. Mckinsey & Co (2013) suggests that the world is spending only $3 trillion a year on transport infrastructure, half of the $6 trillion a year required from 2015 to 2030 simply to keep up with demand due to population growth.
Fact #2: While the world strives to secure infrastructure maintenance funding, the rapid expansion of urbanized regions is unavoidably pursued by the need to enlarge the capacity of infrastructure (the population of people in urbanized regions will rise from 51% now to nearly 65% in 2050). At the same time, old transportation networks are forced to operate under larger loads (heavier truckloads) coping with increased occurrences of natural catastrophes and weather-induced damages.
Fact #3: Addressing these challenges in the era of global deleveraging trend is a make-or-break bet not only for the financial viability of infrastructure but also for the endurance of modern infrastructure-dependent society. It is hence evident that the world is best served today by an “efficiently conserve what exists” strategy rather than a “build and expand” one. Optimized resource allocation, while minimizing risk against natural threats, is becoming the key and is therefore forming the nucleus of our innovation solution.
By ensuring optimized maintenance in day-to-day operations we could offer tremendous savings tο be channeled towards retrofitting actions. In the words of McKinsey (2013) and Ernst & Young (Miller, 2013) the global economy could save up to $100 billion annually through improved road maintenance. In a world struggling to secure funding for even basic infrastructure investments, the latter constitutes a clear incentive for infrastructure shareholders and defines the business opportunity for our innovation project.
In this context,the solution could be sought for in Resilience-based operation and maintenance of civil engineering infrastructure comprising the modern transportation networks. Such a framework will (a) provide reliable decision support throughout the lifetime of the infrastructure and (b) assist in rapid recovery in case of an extreme event. To this end, it should focus on reliably assessing the capacity and optimize maintenance of road cuts and embankments, bridge piers and foundations, and retaining structures; failure of such critical substructure components causes cascading damage to the entire network superstructure. On the other hand, ensuring their robustness is key to the safety of non-structural components and an insurmountable prerequisite to ensure infrastructure resilience