Overview part C of the course : analyzing and designing infrastructures

In the previous weeks, you have been introduced to the socio-technical complexity of infrastructures, and to the complex adaptive nature of infrastructure systems. You are now familiar with the inherent uncertainty of such systems, and you understand that system behaviour emerges from the actions of autonomous agents and components, and the interactions between them, at deeper system levels.

We have explained the concepts of infrastructure sector reform, through liberalization, deregulation and re-regulation, privatization, and the introduction of competition. You have seen that new developments were unleashed by such reforms, as well as by technological innovation – think, for example, of the trends towards convergence and digitization of infrastructure systems and services, towards internationalization and cross-sector interconnections. You have learned to appreciate standards as a stabilizing factor in infrastructure systems, and you have also seen that standards are of crucial importance for interconnectivity and interoperability.

In part C of the course, we will introduce tools/methods for analyzing and designing infrastructures: This is an overview of the content:

  • Module 5 is all about modelling and simulation. We will show you the increasing importance of modelling for analyzing problems in complex systems and introduce some main techniques which you can use (and the differences between them). We also invite you to do a bit of simulation yourself (energy transition and Agent Based Modelling).
  • In module 6, we will focus on the principles of IT-architecture with smart grids as our running example (smart grids play a key role in the energy transition process). You may try to develop an IT-architecture for monitoring water allocation in California. Water shortage and allocation/equity issues are high on the agenda in many countries.
  • In the final module, we will focus on cities. Cities are hubs in infrastructure networks, in fact, hubs in many infrastructure networks at the same time. Cities are places where infrastructures physically meet and where synergistic effects can be achieved in the planning, construction and maintenance of infrastructures, and in resource efficiency.

We will end the course with a peer reviewed assignment, focusing on cities and applying the analytical framework you learned during this course. As bonus material (no grading), the course includes an introduction to problem demarcation and stakeholder analysis skills.  You may find this material useful for – among other things – the peer review assignment.

Learning Objectives Part C

In this part of the course (module 5, 6 and 7), you will learn:

  • To understand how modelling & simulation help their users understand infra-systems, as part of a thorough problem analysis and perhaps redesign process.
  • The paradigms of four different modelling techniques.
  • The basics of ICT-architecture: what are the key elements and how do you start?  
  •  What we mean with smart grids, and the main challenges to realize smart grids for the energy transition process.
  •  An IT-architecture model for smart grid and the need for standards.
  •  Specific characteristics of infrastructures in (mega-)cities and the challenges for the future.
  • To apply your new analytical framework to a concrete challenge.  
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