Lead Research Organisation: Science and Technology Facilities Council
Department Name: Scientific Computing Department


Infrastructure provides the backbone of modern societies. In our daily lives, we depend on supplies of water and energy, road, rail and other transport networks, communication networks, and waste disposal and recycling, as well as the buildings we live and work in. How these systems work has a major impact on our economic, social and physical well-being, and also on the natural environment, particularly in the light of climate change. Consequently, infrastructure investment is seen as a driver for prosperity. The UK's National Infrastructure Strategy sets out the government's plan for a renaissance in infrastructure, with hundreds of billions of pounds of public and private investment. However, the impact this will have on the economy, society and the environment, is not clearly understood. This uncertainty results from the complexity of infrastructure systems and their interaction with people and the environment.
University research supported by EPSRC has been actively developing computer models to simulate infrastructure and explore its impact, to support decision making. However, research is hampered by fragmentation of effort, and limitations of local resources to scale models to the range and detail required for the complexity of national infrastructure. Particular limitations are access to quality data and combining models from different sectors together into "system-of-systems" models.
DAFNI's vision is to allow researchers to use state-of-the-art modelling, simulation and visualisation to better inform and develop strategic thinking. DAFNI has been developed, thanks to an £8 million capital investment from EPSRC as part of the the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities, so researchers can run models on a common computing system with a central repository of data. Using cutting edge computers, models and simulations can be scaled to greater coverage and resolution. Collaborators can use the platform as a shared workspace, and models from different sectors combined to explore their interactions using data from different sources. DAFNI also provides a legacy, a place where models and data can be used beyond the lifetime of a project.
In March 2021 DAFNI will complete its development phase funded by EPSRC, and will be ready to deliver a service to the infrastructure research community. DAFNI-ROSE under EPSRC's Resource-Only Strategic Equipment fund, will provide resources essential to make DAFNI freely available for researchers and continue its development at the cutting edge of compute and data-intensive computing. Two years of funding for DAFNI-ROSE will widen the usage and capability of DAFNI, supporting EPSRC's Engineering and related programmes. It will extend the relationships established in the development phase, so more users and projects can reap the benefits of the investment in DAFNI. DAFNI-ROSE will also look beyond academia, engaging government and industry to build collaborations.
A key group of users are research students developing skills to explore modelling of infrastructure. DAFNI-ROSE will include a programme of training to develop the next generation of Infrastructure Engineers familiar with data intensive tools for design and planning.
Digital Twins are an opportunity to transform the efficiency and reliability of national infrastructure. In a digital twin, data from real systems are fed into a running computer simulation, to predict outcomes that can then be fed back to the real system to steer its course. DAFNI-ROSE will provide a platform for a federated national infrastructure digital twin, coupling diverse simulation models that will together contribute to digital twins that are national in scope.
Infrastructure also affects a wide range of other areas, including the environment, where and how we live, our economy and our health. DAFNI-ROSE will develop collaborations across disciplines to explore the rich interaction between the built, human and natural environments.


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Matthews B (2023) DAFNI: a computational platform to support infrastructure systems research in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Smart Infrastructure and Construction

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Varga L (2023) Infrastructure and city ontologies in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Description We are beginning to see the platform used for both academic research which has impact on policy sectors outside the research area, and also in partnerships directly with government agencies. The DAFNI platform is being used to explore and present scenarios of infrastructure development in the face of short term and long term impacts.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

Description CERAF
Amount £5,063,189 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/V017756/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2021 
End 03/2024
Description The NERC Digital Solutions Hub
Amount £6,999,818 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/W001985/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2021 
End 09/2025
Description Topic A: Open CLimate IMpacts modelling framework (OpenCLIM)
Amount £1,869,001 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/T013931/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 03/2023
Description UKCRIC 
Organisation University of Southampton
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribute computational and data capability to the UKCRIC consortium.
Collaborator Contribution Investigators of the DAFNI-ROSE partnership are members of UKCRIC
Impact Ongoing research explorations and co-organisation of outreach event. Developing new proposals.
Start Year 2017
Description Water Resources Modelling 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working with the Environment Agency to explore water resource usage within England and Wales.
Collaborator Contribution Supplying expertise on using the water resource model
Impact Presentations and reports on the use of the DAFNI platform for water resource modelling.
Start Year 2021
Title DAFNI 
Description Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI) is a scalable platform supporting storage and querying of heterogeneous national infrastructure datasets, and the execution, creation and visualisation of complex modelling applications. The platform is formed by a number of software components, forming a set of middleware on top of the Kubernetes container orchestration system to support user-applications. • National Infrastructure Database (NID). A centrally managed access point to national infrastructure and other datasets required to support infrastructure research. This includes: a centrally managed data-store; a data catalogue; and a data access and publication service. • National Infrastructure Modelling Service (NIMS). The NIMS provides support to improve performance of existing models, reduce the complexity of creating models and facilitate the creation of multi-systems models. It includes a model catalogue and a workflow creation and execution framework. • National Infrastructure Cloud Environment (NICE). The NICE provides scalable cloud environment with a number of Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings, including Jupyter notebooks. Currently this is used to within the internal architecture of DAFNI, to deploy services within the cluster. • National Infrastructure Visualisation Suite (NIVS): The NIVS supports visualisation tools to facilitate understanding of data, models, outputs and translation of findings to decision makers. This includes traditional visualisation as a service (e.g. graph and tabular representations) and user developed analyses using Jupyter Notebooks. • DAFNI Security Service (DSS): The DSS manages the security of the platform, which allows users to seamlessly access and use services they have rights to, while at the same time maintaining security and integrity of data. Services include authentication, authorisation, monitoring, and group management. 
Type Of Technology e-Business Platform 
Year Produced 2021 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The DAFNI infrastructure is the basis of the DAFNI service to the Infrastructure Systems Research community. It thus supports the user base of DAFNI, currently of around 150 and the user research projects assoicated with DAFNI. 
URL http://www.dafni.ac.uk
Description DAFNI Conference 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Annual user confernce of the DAFNI community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022