LONGA VIA project
Managers of infrastructures for energy, transport and water are continuously looking for smarter ways to operate and maintain their infrastructures, in order to provide reliable, safe, affordable and sustainable services to the public. At the same time, existing infrastructures are aging, and facing increased wear and tear because of higher utilisation and the influence of climate change. Data-driven innovations (such as sensors, IOT and smart meters) in the operation and maintenance of and the sharing of data across critical infrastructures can aid the managers of these infrastructures in safeguarding their public interests, yet are insufficiently utilised. There is little cross-sectoral cooperation between infrastructure managers for creating data sharing platforms and common security and crisis procedures. Neither are data-driven innovations in infrastructure operations and maintenance implemented at a large scale.
The LONGA VIA project investigates which factors impede the implementation of data-driven innovations in infrastructure sectors and how these impediments can be overcome. It combines an organisational-economic perspective on infrastructure operations and maintenance with a legal research perspective, a combination that is relevant yet hardly pursued. The organisational/economic perspective helps to assess the main hurdles towards the adoption of data-driven innovation, and seeks to identify effective business models. The legal perspective is used to identify regulatory barriers and aims to identify effective adaptations to existing rules and regulations to facilitate such innovations. In combination, these two perspectives help mitigate challenges at the organisational level (i.e. at infrastructure managers and between them and their partners) as well as at the sectoral level (i.e. within and across infrastructures).
The LONGA VIA project, funded by the NWO/Next Generation Infrastructures programme, is a multidisciplinary project in which researchers from Tilburg Law School (TLS) and Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM) fruitfully cooperate. From the legal perspective, the project is led by Prof. dr. Saskia Lavrijssen and Prof. dr. Martijn Groenleer. PhD researcher Brenda Espinosa investigates the legal and governance aspects concerning the implementation of data driven innovations in the infrastructure sectors. From the organisational perspective, the project is led by Prof. dr. Henk Akkermans and Prof. dr. ir. Wendy van der Valk. PhD researcher Tom Aben is writing a PhD on the organisational aspects of the implementation of data driven innovations in the infrastructure sectors.
The researchers cooperate within a consortium in which several of the largest Dutch infrastructure organisations participate, including the operator of the central railway network (ProRail), the operator of road and waterway infrastructure (Rijkswaterstaat), a regional electricity distribution system operator (Alliander), a drinking water company (Vitens), and the Port of Rotterdam. Within the LONGA VIA project, productive interactions between the researchers from Tilburg University and representatives from the infrastructure organisations take place in the form of recurring meetings in which the latest research insights are shared and the use of these insights by the infrastructure organisations is discussed. Besides these regular meetings with the project partners, the LONGA VIA team has organised and participated in several events reaching audiences of both academics and practitioners, as will be explained below.