The great recovery: the role of data science and simulation in infrastructure

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November 9, 2020
Jim Newton

Data-led insight has a significant role to play in supporting the governments and businesses – from SMEs to Multinationals – to weather the COVID-19 storm and prepare for the coming challenges of post-lockdown planning. The opportunities and challenges of an increase in demand, combined with fundamental changes in customer behavior, will need to be carefully, yet quickly understood if we are to forge a new path as we emerge from the global pandemic.

The 2019 UK general election was dominated by discussions of a so-called ‘infrastructure revolution’, with billions of pounds pledged to projects – from roads, to rail, to telecommunications infrastructure. This all changed when the UK became caught up in the global COVID-19 pandemic– projects stalled, key programmes faced severe delays and businesses tasked with delivering critical infrastructure collapsed owing to financial instability.

As countries take their first tacit steps forward out of lockdown and emerge from the devastation caused by COVID-19, questions concerning how we should respond to changes in consumer demand and behavior and how we plan for the right infrastructure revolution must all now be at the forefront of discussion. The world is not what it was three months ago - our approach to infrastructure planning, investment and delivery must all now adapt to a new world. A society that places an even greater emphasis on digital technology and connectivity. To compound the challenge further, predictions about the recovery from COVID-19 vary hugely and the situation changes rapidly, and as a result there is no one single right answer. We must plan for a range of potential outcomes, and set ourselves up to operate and adapt in one of the most uncertain environments we will ever face.

This where predictive analytics and advanced data science have a key role to play; they can tell us about the range of demands that will be placed on the UK’s infrastructure as the country recovers from COVID-19. Simulations using this data and analysis can help us to test the robustness of our plans in the face of the range of potential paths that COVID-19 and effects might take, and help us adapt to make better operating decisions.

The virus has been the catalyst for an explosion of anonymous data – from governments, the media and industry. What has been sorely lacking is ‘meaningful analysis’ of this rich data pool to provide actionable insights and the ability to test and operate our plans. That is something CKDelta has been working to rectify. Our work alongside our partners is proving to be more crucial than ever given that there is no modern precedence for what is occurring in the world today.