News story

Cambridge-based digital taskforce to boost British infrastructure

The taskforce will bring together experts from industry, academia and government to advise on how data, AI and machine learning can predict the needs of the UK.


The power of digital will be harnessed to help UK industry better plan for the country’s future construction needs, the government will announce today (19 July 2018).

A new taskforce, run by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) will bring together the expertise of the industry, academia and government. The group has been tasked by the Treasury to advise on how data, AI and machine learning can help us predict and meet the needs of the UK.

The work will build on the success of previous construction projects, like the London 2012 Olympics and Crossrail, where digitisation led to greater productivity and efficiency.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, will officially launch the taskforce during a visit to Cambridge, where he will see first-hand the innovations in data and manufacturing that will help deliver the infrastructure of the future.

He said:

We are investing record amounts in UK infrastructure to build the roads, railways, schools and hospitals we need.

There are vast amounts of data and information on the UK’s infrastructure, but only with better coordination can its incredible potential help us meet the country’s needs.

What we’ve announced today will support this ambition. That way vital projects like transport, housing and broadband will complement each other and help us ensure our infrastructure is fit for the future.

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor: Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge said:

Digital technologies are shaping all industrial sectors and will have a profound impact on construction. The core aim of the Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) is to ensure that the UK is well positioned to capitalise on the use of data for the public good in the UK’s economic infrastructure and the wider built and natural environments.

To achieve this the DFTG will collaborate closely with industry, policy makers and academia to develop and encourage adoption of the digital framework for infrastructure data.

The framework will unlock the potential of digital twins, and the next generation of digital construction and smarter infrastructure advances.

The announcement comes during the latest visit in the Minister’s new economy tour of the UK. During his visit to the East of England, he will champion the innovators and job-creators that have boosted employment to record levels and are a key driving force in the local economy.

Notes to editors

The Exchequer Secretary will visit:

  • the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Digital Built Britain (who will operate the DFTG) and Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction
  • Microsoft’s Research Lab – Cambridge

The task force forms part of the Government’s response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s December report, Data for the Public Good, and builds on their recommendations.

The Digital Framework Task Group will report to government in October 2018 on how to implement the full framework.

Published 19 July 2018