What is the challenge?
Swedish infrastructure faces major challenges. Many water and sewer installations, roads and railways are ageing, and in many areas extensive maintenance is needed. Infrastructure in poor condition has significant adverse repercussions on the economy and environment alike.
Today, municipalities and water and sewerage (WS) services lack support for strategic priorities and decisions. What is more, owing to inadequate financial and human resources there is a growing list of much-needed maintenance projects. At the same time, recruiting qualified personnel is difficult for the municipalities.
How can the programme contribute to a solution?
The vision of the Mistra InfraMaint research programme is , based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, to contribute to sustainable infrastructure. The aim is to achieve this by supporting state and municipal operators by providing improved services, such as condition assessment of physical structures and improved forecasting of future maintenance needs. The programme also includes projects focusing on development of organisations and new business and funding models, and on skills provision.
Interdisciplinary research in Mistra InfraMaint, including work on materials and the environment, innovation economics and policy issues, is conducted in three thematic areas:
- sustainable decision support
- sustainable business models and organisations
- sustainable skills development.
Who will benefit from the results?
Mistra InfraMaint’s researchers work in close contact with the stakeholders. Doctoral students associated with the programme will work mostly in the municipal organisations. This has two main implications. First, it ensures that the research is based on real needs. Second, it will enable municipalities to put new research into practice.
Skills are needed on a large scale, and Mistra InfraMaint has the stated goal of halving the skills shortfall. Knowledge transfer is therefore an important feature of work in the programme. The aim is, through seminars, web-based training and other activities, to make knowledge of asset management more readily accessible. In addition, use of smart technology will help to make infrastructure maintenance a more attractive area both to work in and for education and training.
The importance of research for a green recovery and sustainable transformation – Interviews with Mistra Programme Directors spring 2020.
Gunn-Mari Löfdahl, Assisting Programme Director Mistra InfraMaint.