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National Infrastructure Commission asked by chancellor to investigate infrastructure tech

The National Infrastructure Commission will begin a study looking at how new technology can enhance the UK’s infrastructure.

The commission has been asked by chancellor Philip Hammond to identify the emerging technologies with the most potential to improve the management and maintenance of existing infrastructure and guide the government on how to deploy them.

It will focus on areas such as digitalisation, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and how they can advance the way the country manages its infrastructure.

This is the fifth study carried out by the NIC since it was formed last October.

Earlier this year, the independent body looked into transport in London, connectivity in the North and the the future of the UK’s power supply.

The NIC published its fourth study last week looking into how transport infrastructure could maximise the potential of the east-west corridor between Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford.

A number of recommendations were supported in Mr Hammond’s Autumn Statement, including an agreement to fund the next phase of the east-west Railway and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.

Mr Hammond announced that spending for infrastructure projects covered by the National Infrastructure Commission would increase to over 1 per cent GDP next year, up from 0.8 per cent.

He also said that from 2020 the NIC should make recommendations on the assumption that spending on infrastructure will equal between 1 per cent and 1.2 per cent of GDP each year from 2020 to 2050.

In a letter to NIC chairman Lord Adonis, Mr Hammond wrote: “Innovation and infrastructure are at the heart of the government’s economic and industrial strategy, and emerging technologies have the potential to radically improve the way we manage our infrastructure.”

NIC deputy chair Sir John Armitt said: “As new technologies develop, Britain must do everything it can to ensure that we are best placed to reap the benefits – and that includes incorporating innovative new systems and practices into the infrastructure that keeps our country moving.

“Britain should seek to lead the world in harnessing the emerging technologies that can make our lives easier and our economy more productive. This study will consider how we make that happen.”

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