Digitalising infrastructure

In this special issue we focus on the digitalisation of infrastructure. Digitalisation is, of course, transforming all kinds of industries. Content industries (music, newspapers, the audiovisual sector and so on) were the first to be digitalised and then disrupted by digital platforms. Network industries are also now being digitalised, in distinctive ways.

Digitalisation can reduce the cost of the construction and the operation of infrastructure. As sensors are installed in infrastructure producing massive data, infrastructure managers can also reduce maintenance costs. Furthermore, big data can help infrastructure managers to better control traffic flow. Machine learning algorithms can be used to predict peaks in infrastructure use, and then different tools can be employed to manage demand (dynamic pricing) and even supply (software-defined networks). In this special issue, different infrastructure industries are analysed. Common challenges will be identified, as well as the specificities of each sector.

This special issue presents a set of four papers developed by members of the Digitalizing Infrastructure Group of Experts (DIGEX). DIGEX was founded in 2018, within the Florence School of Regulation, and is managed by Juan Montero and Matthias Finger

The first contribution, authored by Montero, identifies common themes across different types of infrastructure. It identifies how digitalisation can reduce design costs, and the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Furthermore, it identifies how digitalisation enables infrastructure managers to reduce costs for the use of infrastructure and, more importantly, allows them to increase efficiency in capacity management by better controlling both capacity supply and demand.

Tsvetkova, Gustafsson and Wikström identify how digitalisation is transforming the infrastructure of ports and how, as a result, port managers are under growing pressure to provide prompt service.

Espinosa describes how the drinking water sector is using digital technologies to obtain better-quality information on the condition and the functioning of the infrastructure that they manage and the quality of the water that they supply.

Cruz and Sarmento explain how digital technologies are being deployed on road networks, reducing costs there.

Editor of this special issue is Juan Montero

Separate articles can be downloaded from the links below:

Digitalizing infrastructure

Juan José Montero

The digitalization of port infrastructure

Anastasia Tsvetkova, Magnus Gustafsson and Kim Wikström