The current ITRC-MISTRAL research program encompasses the analysis of infrastructure systems at multiple-scales including “across scales”, that is, to assess and compare infrastructure systems at a national scale in other countries around the world. Our intention therefore is to adapt and apply our ground breaking systems-of-systems infrastructure assessment capabilities to other countries and contexts including developing countries, rapidly developing city-states, and post-conflict, post-disasters contexts.

Most of the world’s infrastructure development is occurring outside the UK in rapidly emerging economies with the greatest infrastructure gap present in the poorest countries of the world. Infrastructure decisions being made now will lock in development pathways.

In the international cases we have examined so far we have seen a wide range of planning and decision methodologies, but no long-term cross-sectoral strategic systems analysis. Given the scale of infrastructure investment required around the world, from post-disaster situations to rapidly industrialising economies, it is not surprising that ITRC has been invited to apply its approach in situations outside the UK, from Palestine to China.

As a key component of this research we are developing, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), a series of open-source analysis tools known as NISMOD-Int for the application of evidence-based decision making to developing countries. These tools will allow recipient countries to develop and assess alternative infrastructure transition strategies for meeting their future sustainable development goals. This work is currently being piloted in the occupied Palestinian territories with plans underway to extend our coverage to Africa, Asia and the Island States.

A central module within the open-source analysis tools we are applying is a generic infrastructure systems assessment framework that can be applied to any of the diverse range of possible international settings. Integral to this framework will be the ability to combine the surplus of rapidly emerging global datasets, including big data from remote sensing satellites and mobile devices, with country-specific engineering insights and on-the-ground assessments gained from our UNOPS partners. By applying our methodology at a variety of scales we will enable an exploration of the many different infrastructure network configurations that might be achievable given the lock-in to infrastructure systems that have been built in recent decades and the current patterns of investment. And in post-disaster, post-conflict contexts provide the capacity for evidence-based strategies to enable affected countries to ‘build back better’.