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VIA AUGUSTA proposal ‘Leveraging the potential of a System-of-Systems approach to infrastructure management’ granted by NWO/NGinfra

Published: 02nd December 2021 Last updated: 14th January 2022

Wendy van der Valk, together with Henk Akkermans and Carol Ou (TiSEM), Saskia Lavrijssen and Martijn Groenleer (TLS) have been awarded a grant by NWO/NGInfra for their VIA AUGUSTA project proposal. NGinfra, or Next Generation Infrastructure, involves a collaboration between main infrastructure managers in the Netherlands aimed at working towards an integrated vision on how to equip the infrastructure of the future. The grant amounts to nearly 1 million euros. The consortium partners are Alliander, Havenbedrijf Rotterdam, Rijkswaterstaat, ProRail.

The project can be viewed as a continuation of the LONGA VIA project conducted between TLS and TiSEM in the period 2018-2022 (involving PhDs Tom Aben and Brenda Espinosa (TLS), which addressed the legal and organizational barriers towards data-driven innovation in infrastructure management.


The successor VIA AUGUSTA will involve two PhD and two postdoc positions and focuses on the following:

The world of infrastructures (e.g., roads, rail- and waterways, electricity grids) is confronted with a mountain range of challenges, i.e., urbanisation, digitalisation, the energy transition and increased attention for climate change and sustainability that collectively call for a major transition in infrastructure management. The ever-increasing intertwinement of infrastructures, i.e. physical and digital interconnections and their interactions, warrants that infrastructure managers plan and operate in a coordinated fashion as if they were one infrastructure. Such a ‘system-of-systems’ (SoS) approach requires both enhanced coordination and collaboration (i.e. integration), and specification and allocation of tasks (i.e. differentiation).

Digitalisation offers great potential to cost-effectively speed up the transition to a SoS approach through enhanced sharing of data that allows coordinated planning and decision-making. At the same time, a SoS approach entails many governance challenges related to IT (e.g. deciding on and coordinating systems, content and flows), the organisations involved (e.g. dealing with differing objectives, sharing investments versus returns) and the regulatory frameworks under which the various infrastructures operate (e.g. dealing with sector-specific laws and regulations, especially in relation to broader welfare aspects of activities and investments). These challenges and the substantial efforts and investments involved require that infrastructure managers carefully consider when a SoS approach is meaningful. The VIA AUGUSTA project will help infrastructure managers understand in what situations a SoS approach can be meaningful (i.e. leveraging such an approach without compromising individual infrastructures) and how to facilitate such an approach by means of effective IT governance (ITG), inter-organisational governance (IOG) and regulatory governance (RG) frameworks.

More information: Wendy van der Valk