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A Spatial Network Model for Civil Infrastructure System Development

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gaihua Fu, Professor Sean Wilkinson, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Infrastructure networks play an important role in improving economic prosperity, enabling movement of resources and protecting communities from hazards. As these networks serve population, they evolve in response to social, economic, environmental and technological changes. Consideration of these interactions has thus far been limited by use of simplified datasets and idealised network structures, and is unable to explain the complexity and sub-optimal structures displayed by real infrastructure networks. This paper presents a new computational model that simulates the growth and evolution of infrastructure systems. Empirical evidence obtained from analysis of non-trivial real world datasets is used to identify the mechanisms that guide and govern system-scale evolution of infrastructure networks. The model investigates the interplay of three key drivers, namely network demand, network efficiency and network cost in shaping infrastructure network architectures. The validity of the model is verified by comparing key topological and spatial properties of simulated networks with real world networks from six infrastructure sectors. The model is used to develop and explore different scenarios of infrastructure network futures, and their resilience is shown to change as a result of different infrastructure management policies. The model can therefore be used to identify system-wide infrastructure engineering strategies to reduce network costs, increase network efficiency and improve the resilience of infrastructure networks to disruptive events.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fu G, Wilkinson S, Dawson R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Computer-Aided Civil and Infrastructure Engineering

Year: 2016

Volume: 31

Issue: 9

Pages: 661-680

Print publication date: 01/09/2016

Online publication date: 01/06/2016

Acceptance date: 24/02/2016

Date deposited: 01/04/2016

ISSN (print): 1093-9687

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8667

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/mice.12204


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Funder referenceFunder name
EP/I035781/1UK EPSRC
EP/H003630/1EPSRC fellowship
EP/K012398/1UK EPSRC