New DAFNI project: Data Infrastructure for National Infrastructure

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Announcing new DAFNI project: "Data Infrastructure for National Infrastructure"

exploring the Challenges and Opportunities in Data Sharing within the domain of national infrastructure systems research

April 2024

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In March 2023 the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSIT) launched the National Science and Technology Framework which sets out the government’s approach to making the UK a “science and technology superpower” by 2030,  and announced a 2-year National Data Research Cloud pilot in partnership with UKRI. Last month [March 2024], the National Science and Technology framework announced an update on progress, confirming funding of £5 million across four pilot projects with UKRI for a National Research Data Cloud. The overall objective of this activity is to test and understand the need for a national research cloud through a series of interventions designed to remove data sharing barriers, in order to identify potential models and options for future national scale initiatives, and to build an investment case and set out the role of Government.

We are delighted to confirm that DSIT has awarded one of these pilots to the Data Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI) programme via the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Digital Research Infrastructure programme. DAFNI is located within the Scientific Computing Department, within the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). This project called Data Infrastructure for National Infrastructure (DINI) will be exploring the Challenges and Opportunities in Data Sharing within the domain of national infrastructure systems research. 

On the 24th of April, Dr Brian Matthews will be hosting a webinar on the topic of Data Sharing, discussing the technical barriers and opportunities, exploring best practices, technical standards and impact of technical demonstrators work. Please sign up here to join us for the webinar.


Our national infrastructures, such as energy, water, and transport systems, are critical to the functioning of society. Exploring the potential, impact and evolution of infrastructure systems is an active area of research within engineering and related disciplines with high impact on the social, economic and environmental well-being of the UK. Computational modelling and machine learning are an increasingly important part of this research, allowing researchers and policy makers to explore different options and predict the impacts on society.  

However, a barrier to the effective exploitation of this research is the availability of quality data. Data is an essential prerequisite for good analysis and good decision making, but there are many barriers to the effective use of data, which are prevalent in the infrastructure systems engineering domain, including: Discoverability, Licensing, Sensitivity, Metadata, Interoperability, Reliability and Ethics.

To realise the potential for the exploitation of the huge amount of data within the community to drive research and the subsequent delivery of the impact of that research on policy making, a systematic approach needs to be taken when designing and building a research data cloud environment to coordinate and sustain the management of data is needed to make data in this domain more coherent and shareable.  

The DINI project includes the following specific objectives: 

  • Situation analysis: Identify the benefits and barriers to data sharing, exchange and reuse for infrastructure systems engineering data and related domains, such as the Natural Environment and Social and Economic Data – for example, by enabling communities to connect across data platforms for multi-disciplinary research, to deliver impact across themes. Given the wide scope of Infrastructure Systems Engineering, the project is focusing on the Water, Energy and Transport sectors.  
  • Data publication support: Recommend best practices to enable the FAIR publication of and access to infrastructure systems data, including data policy and data sharing agreement templates, and data annotation and terminology including ontologies and the use of Digital Object Identifiers.  
  • Enabling services: Pilot services to catalogue and provide access to infrastructure data and make it available for interoperation and reuse in traceable analysis processes.  
  • Benefits realisation: Demonstrate potential benefits via case studies on the use of interoperable data in cross-domain scenarios.  

DINI Project progress

We are pleased to announce that we are progressing with our project plan, we have great partners involved already and are looking forward to working with more stakeholders along the way. The next few months will keep us very busy but we are looking forward to it. Please join us on the 24th of April to find out more.

Dr Brian Matthews, DAFNI Programme Lead

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Book now for 24th April webinar

Challenges & Opportunities in Data Sharing:

12 noon – 1pm


DAFNI was originally funded by an £8 million EPSRC investment in the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) and a £1.2m grant under EPSRC’s Resource Only Strategic Equipment. Its aim has been to become the national platform to satisfy the computational needs in support of data analysis, infrastructure modelling and visualisation, and encourage whole-system thinking for the UK’s infrastructure research needs.
In March 2023 UKRI awarded £4m to STFC Scientific Computing to establish a national Centre of Excellence for Resilient Infrastructure Analysis, and move the Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI) into its new phase.
Today, the platform supports research that aims to provide the UK with a world-leading infrastructure system that is more integrated, efficient, powerful, reliable, resilient and affordable. It is enabling the community to conduct research that is able to generate new insights at a higher level of detail and accuracy than ever before.
To find out more about DAFNI, visit:​

16th April 2024