Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure to advance UK infrastructure research

Why is DAFNI needed?

The UK’s National Infrastructure Plan has set aside over £460 billion of investment for the next decade. However, it is not yet known what effect the investment will have on the quality and reliability of national infrastructure services, economic productivity, the resilience of society or its impacts upon the environment. This uncertainty exists as a result of the inherent complexity of infrastructure systems (energy, transport, digital communications, water etc.) and their interactions with people and the environment.

DAFNI represents an £8 million investment from the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) to provide world leading infrastructure systems research capabilities and enhance the quality of outputs. DAFNI will improve the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of infrastructure through better sharing and use of data, exploitation of simulation and optimization techniques, and engagement with stakeholders through visualisation.

Who will be using DAFNI?

By 2020, DAFNI will enable essential research into services such as:

  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Digital communications
  • Water supply
  • Flood protection
  • Wastewater and solid waste collection
  • Treatment and disposal

It will provide access to enhanced computational resources that will enable characterisation of infrastructure demand for services for every household in the UK. It will also offer cutting edge and unique software which will allow researchers across Academia, UK Government and related industries to study complex infrastructure systems in cities and in the UK as a whole.

What will DAFNI be used for?

DAFNI will become the National Platform to satisfy the computational needs in support of data analysis; infrastructure research; and strategic thinking for the UK’s long term planning and investment needs. The platform will support academic research that is aiming to provide the UK with a world leading infrastructure system that is more: efficient, reliable, resilient and affordable. DAFNI will support big data analytics, simulation, modelling and visualisation.

What are the benefits of DAFNI?

DAFNI will provide:

  1. a secure yet accessible National Infrastructure Database
  2. a new software platform to enable analysis, modelling and simulation of national infrastructure systems; and
  3. new remote and local visualisation facilities to enable access to and interpretation of the results by researchers and practitioners.

Platform capabilities


Short for: Extract, transform, load. DAFNI allows access to a repository of data from multiple data providers in the format required by researchers to accelerate their use in infrastructure modelling.

Modelling Workflows

The DAFNI modelling service provides a framework for the integration of models that simplifies challenges related to scaling, performance, repeatability and data integration.

Advanced Visualisation

DAFNI’s visualisation suite provides a set of tools capable of visualising large and complex datasets with expert knowledge. This enables improved understanding of data both in research and strategic decision making.

Central Data Repository

Research fundamentally relies on access to quality data. DAFNI provides a single point of access for users in a secure, reliable and usable platform through its central data repository.

Central Model Library

To encourage collaboration, reduce replication of research and drive innovation forward, DAFNI provides a central model library that has houses contributions from members across the DAFNI community.


DAFNI provides a hybrid cloud solution allowing it to utilise multiple cloud resources enabling computational demanding applications to be facilitated whilst maintaining cost effectiveness.

Project Architecture


National Infrastructure Database

The NID exists to provide centrally managed access to national infrastructure datasets and those required to support national infrastructure research. This however, requires a number of functional capabilities on the platform to enable this datastore to be usable, efficient and reliable. The requirements for the NID identify a number of core features: a centrally managed datastore; an Extract Transform and Load (ETL) framework; a data catalogue; and a data access and publication service.


National Infrastructure Modelling Service

The NIMS will provide the user community with the ability to improve performance of existing models, reduce the complexity of creating models and facilitate the creation of complex system-of-systems models. In order to provide this functionality, there are a number of logical components that will support this activity. They are as follows: a workflow framework and creator; a workflow engine; a model catalogue and a data transformation library.


National Infrastructure Cloud Environment

The foundation of all of the capabilities that DAFNI will provide are based upon the existence of a high performance, flexible and scalable cloud environment. Fundamentally this will replicate the functionality available at other analogous cloud environments. The DAFNI project will however provide a series of adaptations to increase the suitability for the intended user community. The breakdown of this is as follows: a cloud environment; a cloud services user interface and command line interface; a number of PaaS offerings (e.g. data science notebooks and databases); and a centralised resource pool in support of PaaS and workflow manager (NIMS) activities.


National Infrastructure Visualisation Suite

Visualisation is an often overlooked or underinvested area of a platform, but is often the primary means through which meaning from results is attained. This is the core role that visualisation will play for DAFNI. It will act as an enabler for facilitating understanding of data, models, outputs and translation of findings to decision makers. In order to achieve this means, the platform will provide the following core functions: traditional visualisation as a service (e.g. graph and tabular representations); and advanced visualisation as a service (e.g. virtual/augmented reality).


Security Service

The DSS forms the crux of all the guarantees the platform will provide with regards to security. In order to ensure the robustness of the platform this aspect manages all security aspects internal to the platform. In order to achieve this it must allow users to seamlessly access and use services without being hindered by the platform whilst maintaining security. In order to achieve this the platform will provide the following functional components: an authentication service; an authorisation service; a monitoring service; and an accounts management service.

Interested in collaborating with DAFNI?

The team offers a breadth of experience across a range of subjects areas, in particular project management, software engineering, systems architecture and design, mathematical modelling, visualisation and community building.

Contact us