As part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), DAFNI has funded hardware investment at each of its partner organisations.

Image: University of Cranfield equipment from DAFNI hardware fund

University of Cranfield: interactive shared experiences and collaboration using VR

In this case study, read how Cranfield University is driving collaborative research and shared experiences across universities and with stakeholder groups using equipment purchased with DAFNI’s hardware funds.

Professor Steven Hallett is leading Cranfield’s project. He explained that they will integrate the DAFNI platform into the hardware project, using DAFNI as the hub for receiving data streams in real-time, acting as the data repository, and the driver for visualisations and workflows.

Stephen noted, “We’re working to take advantage of the amazing DAFNI platform and hardware fund equipment to communicate with stakeholders on research in new ways.”

The university also used the DAFNI fund to purchase a high-resolution 3D terrestrial laser scanner, allowing researchers to build and model scenarios such as flood events using real-life streetscapes in the VR system.

Stephen outlines how DAFNI is an integral part of digital twin and environmental projects, saying, “DAFNI offers a tremendous one-stop-show with enormous HPC powers combined with a really advanced workflow user interface plus absolutely enormous stores of data which can come from external sources and other people’s model runs.”

Image: University of Leeds DAFNI Hardware Fund

University of Leeds: building digital twins of social systems

This case study highlights how University of Leeds has put DAFNI hardware funds to innovative use to in digital twin computer simulations, created with the hardware funded by DAFNI, to model social systems at a high resolution, both in terms of spatial scale and individual level attributes using techniques such as agent based models and microsimulation.

Nik Lomax explains, “Within a digital twin which represents the social system, we can investigate hypothetical policy change by running counterfactual experiments and assess how these impact on individuals, groups and spatial areas.

“Building an augmented/ virtual reality world will help policymakers to make more informed decisions. The ability to take our research outside the university, to demonstrate the digital world to policymakers, means we will be able to better visualise scenarios and impacts.”

He adds, “We’re now able to carry out work that’s more experimental without fear of blowing the budget; and to allow researchers, especially PhD students, who may not have had access to compute because they are working on low budget projects, to move their project to a higher level.”

Image: University of Bristol DAFNI immersive data space

University of Bristol: a portable immersive data space for infrastructure visualisation

In this case study, read how University of Bristol has put the DAFNI hardware funds to good use to drive engagement work with schools around Bristol, researchers across the university and, soon local councils.

The immersive data space is being used by research groups including the Urban Vision Science Team, Jean Goulding Institute for Data Science, and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security.

Dr Patrick Tully explains, “A key part of our work is to generate lots of data about urban environments and the data is often difficult to display in a meaningful way without it being overwhelming.

“We are using the novel environment of the immersive space to drive engagement and encourage people to interact with the space in a more physical and interactive way than we might otherwise have done using PowerPoints projected on the wall, for example.

“We’re actively encouraging people to engage with our new equipment as well – we’d welcome approaches from other researchers within the university as well as external groups who’re interested in helping us to develop different ways of using it.”

Image: Cambridge University - punting on the river

University of Cambridge

The Cambridge University DAFNI hardware has been used to setup the virtual reality systems across four departments. These virtual reality systems have been used in digital-twin research and education. We created digital twin of an asset or a structure through site visiting and scanning, then developed an immersive environment to simulate the construction and maintenance of the digital twin. The benefits for doing so are twofold. First, it brings digital twins to participant’s hands where he/she overview the asset in an inclusive and immersive environment. Second, it improves the student’s understanding of theoretical engineering concepts by demonstrating how an asset is built and maintained in a 3D model. The UK scale simulation models that have been developed under the Royal Society’s RAMP programme by the Architecture and Land Economy teams have expanded the potentials for applications on DAFNI, once the hardware connections and software support are fully set up. This is expected to catalyse interdisciplinary research on digital-twin development and applications. One additional benefit of the equipment purchased has been the development of a much wider ‘virtual network’ than first planned, and this is particularly appreciated in light of the extended restrictions on physical mobility and meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Full case study coming soon

Image: University of Southampton website

The University of Southampton: immersive virtual reality

In this case study, read how the University of Southampton is using equipment purchased with the DAFNI hardware funds in a “VR cave” to try out scenarios and model human behaviour in a way that simply would not be safe to do in real-world situations.

The VR cave is being used to research the impact of drone use on provision of health services in the UK; to model and visualise very detailed aspects of driving behaviour; and to model a more friendly road infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.

Simon Blainey explains, “Displaying those scenarios in the VR cave allows people to interact with those simulations, to try and navigate the specific awkward situations, and gauge how people would respond in various scenarios.”

Ben Waterson adds, “Our next project is focused on pure visualisation and will use a large touch-sensitive table with multi-point control, also funded by the DAFNI hardware monies. Rather than having a keyboard or mouse we will have a giant map on the table for people to interact with it and the information will appear on the walls of the VR cave.

Image: London Underground and city scene

University College London

The UCL DAFNI hardware will be deployed in two separate places in Bloomsbury, London.

The new DAFNI room in the Chadwick building is being refurbished for use in September 2021. The room will have 6 * laptops with six high end graphics workstations with top of the range GPUs and VR headsets to be used for the visualisation of DAFNI content. 

We are also forming a meeting area in the DAFNI room at Chadwick with a portable large screen, providing an area to engage and demonstrate DAFNI content for a broad range of modeling activities and different scales. The CASA hardware, primarily two R740 servers with A100 GPUs, will be used at Tottenham Court Road to run the public QUANT website, allowing anybody to use the QUANT model for running transport scenarios relating to road, bus and rail infrastructure changes in the UK. In addition to this, half the capacity will be dedicated to researchers for running more compute intensive scenarios, making use of the enhanced graphics capability to provide geographic visualisation of the impacts of changes. 

Full case study coming soon!

Image: University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins building

University of Oxford

The Oxford University DAFNI hardware will be deployed in a new decision theatre in the Dyson Perrins building in central Oxford. 

Full case study coming soon!

Image: University of Manchester north campus

University of Manchester

At the University of Manchester we have installed three powerful servers (two DELL PowerEdge R740 servers and one DELL PowerEdge R340) for the research group to assemble, host and create datasets on infrastructure assets and networks and enable models simulations for a new research generation.

Our two high performance workstations (Asus Z490-A) will facilitate testing of cluster expansion, visualisation of large datasets, and GPU-based simulation and optimisation, whereas the 75’’ TV (Viewsonic IFP7550-2EP 75″ 4K Ultra HD) allows an interactive touch screen and high resolution visualisations of simulation outputs. 

Full case study coming soon!

Image: University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham

The DAFNI hardware funds have been spent on purchasing High Performance Computing, some visualisation equipment, including a set of VR goggles, and a large screen in the National Buried Infrastructure Facility’s visualisation room.

The National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF) at the University of Birmingham is a ‘one of a kind’ facility spanning research, innovation, education, CPD and training in buried infrastructure-ground interaction. It is part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).

Image: Imperial College London signage

Imperial College London

Full case study coming soon!


Image: Sheffield city scene

University of Sheffield

Full case study coming soon!


Image: Newcastle bridges

Newcastle University

The Civil and Geospatial Engineering Group within the School of Engineering at Newcastle University purchased a number of desktop machines using monies from the DAFNI hardware fund to enable PhD students to test and hone their models before deploying them onto DAFNI.

The DAFNI high performance computing purchased allows Newcastle University to provide PhD researchers with a useful staging environment where they can test and hone models and code before going onto the DAFNI platform itself.