Systems of Systems and BIM – An integrated future for infrastructure delivery


Dr. Mary Moloney, Ted McKenna, Kevin Fitzgibbon, Dr. Eamon McKeogh.

Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Institute of Technology, Cork


There is a need for change in the current decision making process for infrastructure planning and investment, moving away from the historic ‘silo’-type mentality, where each project is evaluated in isolation. This paper proposes the development of a ‘Systems of Systems’ (SoS) methodology for Ireland’s national infrastructure planning and delivery. SoS supports the development of holistic and sustainable infrastructure evolution founded on evidence-based decision making; the approach involves an integration and analysis of constituent infrastructure network systems, incorporating input from both [public-sector] policy makers and [private-sector] decision makers. Such an approach for infrastructure decision-makingis based on existing spatial and capacity data of each of the constituent infrastructure networks; and scenario computation and analysis of alternative drivers eg. demographic change, economic variability and demand/capacity constraints. The output from such an analysis would provide valuable evidence upon which policy makers and decision makers alike could rely, which has been lacking in historic investment decisions.

The availability of accurate information to inform analysis and decisions is essential. Information can only be used for dynamic modelling if the data is collected and used in up to date network models. Building Information Modelling (BIM) offers the methodologies and technologies to develop the required digital asset database to best inform lifecycle decisions associated with conception, design, construction and operation of physical infrastructure assets. By developing the appropriate digital asset database, the demand for new infrastructure can itself be tested, in a SoS methodology, under various policy scenarios, to provide evidence for investment decisions. Ireland has a poor level of national asset registers and data sets, the building blocks for infrastructure network models. So while this paper proposes a SoS approach to decision making, it also suggests data sets which are deemed necessary to implement such a methodology, and discusses the current lack of, and poor quality and accessibility of, this information.


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