This is part of a wider £138 million of funding announced by the Chancellor for the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), and is subject to a satisfactory business case and the provision of co-funding. The UKCRIC will apply research to ensure the UK's infrastructure is resilient and responsive to environmental and economic impacts.
In Newcastle, the investment will greatly enhance the capabilities of Science Central, Newcastle's flagship project which brings together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry to create a global centre for sustainable innovation in the heart of the city. The focus of the funding announced today will be to establish a new state-of-the-art urban water infrastructure facility as part of Newcastle University's Urban Sciences Building, opening in Autumn 2017. This will be integrated into equivalent urban infrastructure test-beds for energy, transport and ICT infrastructure already under development.
Professor Richard Dawson, Professor of Earth Systems Engineering at Newcastle University, commented: "The new facility will enable experimentation and testing of new 'smart' technologies and urban flood management features. It will provide new insights into how cities of the future can be designed to better work with water - so that it is used more carefully as a resource, and less disruptive and damaging during extreme weather. This issue is of particular interest in Newcastle where summer floods, caused by intense rainfall, in 2012 caused millions of pounds of damage and disruption.
"Integration of the new urban water infrastructure facilities into the urban sciences initiative will provide a unique facility that will enable improved understanding of interactions and dependencies between different urban infrastructure systems. This is crucial as there is still a substantial disconnect between laboratory performance and 'real world' performance of many systems.
"The Urban Sciences Building will provide a 'Building as a Lab' and 'Urban Observatory' that provide a platform for testing the long term 'real world' performance of new technologies and their wider impacts and benefits across the urban area. This will provide the evidence, and large scale demonstration, of how better quality local and integrated infrastructure services can be provided at lower costs and deliver better social and economic value."
The investment will benefit from collaboration with key Science Central partners such as Northumbrian Water, Northern Powergrid, the Tyne & Wear Urban Traffic Management Control Centre and Newcastle City Council as well as technology partners that include Siemens, Philips and Zero Carbon Futures.
Science Central is being delivered by a long-term committed partnership between Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, as part of the Newcastle Science City initiative.