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The Next Generation of Infrastructure (edX)

Explore the challenges and complexity of both global and local infrastructure (IT/Telecom, Energy, Water and Transportation) and how to make the best decisions to improve it. We increasingly depend on reliable and affordable supply of energy, water, transport, telecommunication and information services to improve livability and facilitate economic development. However, today’s infrastructure systems are drastically changing. They are becoming more and more web-based, interconnected and transnational, with increasingly fragmented public and private ownership, while new technologies are on their way.

The capital need for investment in new infrastructures and upgrading of ageing infrastructures is tremendous.

During this infrastructure course you will learn to examine these challenges from a new, combined engineering and social sciences perspective. Subsequently we will focus on the challenges that complex adaptive infrastructure systems pose for governance, management and decision-making in a world full of uncertainties. In the last part of the course, we will introduce a selection of topics and tools (modeling & simulation, value sensitive design, standards, ICT-architecture) which will help you to improve the adequacy of infrastructure systems and services, while dealing with the risks and vulnerabilities of infrastructure interdependencies.

In our case studies, we will focus on topical developments and policies, such as sustainable energy transition (including smart grids), urbanization and its impact on infrastructures, the challenges of climate change and water scarcity, and the phenomenon of inverse infrastructure development (self-organization).

If you are interested or involved in the functioning of today’s and tomorrow’s infrastructures, this course is an exceptional learning opportunity, whether you are a student or a professional. You will be interacting with peers all over the world and we will present a large number of case studies.

The course is based on the results of an extensive and renowned international research programme titled ‘Next Generation Infrastructures’ (NGInfra).

What you’ll learn:

– To diagnose the main challenges with respect to infrastructure (water, energy, transport, ICT) development for the future in a social-technical perspective

– Decision making skills in a complex and uncertain world

– Analytical and design support tools for improving infrastructures

– How to discuss and explain challenges impacting and influencing global infrastructure


Module 0: Setting the scene: the infrastructural challenge for the future

Module 1: The socio-technical complexity of infrastructures/key concepts

Module 2: Fuzzy borders: interconnectedness, interdependencies, bottom-up developments and need for standards

Module 3: Complexity theory and why infrastructures are complex systems

Module 4: Governance and regulation of complex infrastructures

Module 5: Modeling, gaming and simulation as tools for designing and understanding infrastructures

Module 6: ICT-architecture and cybersecurity: challenges

Module 7: Wrap-up: design of infrastructures of urban areas

Next steps: Actor analysis and problem demarcation