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Delft University of Technology

The Next Generation of Infrastructure

Delft University of Technology via edX


Our societies increasingly rely on the reliable and affordable supply of energy, water, transport and IT-based services. However, these critical infrastructures are changing dramatically. They are increasingly web-based, interconnected, interdependent and transnational, often with fragmented public and private ownership.

Looking to the future, we have to ensure that infrastructures are resilient, sustainable, secure and inclusive. Huge investments – with the use of new technologies and AI – are needed to replace outdated infrastructure and to keep pace with urbanization.

This all produces a daunting task for those who need to develop policies, governance mechanisms and regulatory frameworks for infrastructures and plan and prioritize infrastructure investment.

It is not possible to do so by looking at the individual components of an infrastructure. Instead, we have to look at the whole system from a socio-technical perspective (technology and people). Just think about flooding, we not only have to think about building higher dykes and other containments in more flexible and sustainable ways, but also for example about early warning and monitoring systems, communication and the knock-on effects on roads, sanitation and recovery.

During this course you will learn to analyze critical infrastructures from this systems perspective. Why have infrastructures become such complex systems? What future challenges will this present? What can we learn from ‘complexity theory’ to understand and analyze the behavior of infrastructural systems?

From this base, the course will focus on the implications for governance, regulation and shaping policies. You will be introduced to analytical tools, instruments and approaches which will help you to define policies to ensure appropriate infrastructure systems and services, while dealing with the risks and vulnerabilities of infrastructure interdependencies.

If you are interested or involved in the functioning and interconnectedness of today's and tomorrow's infrastructures, this course is an exceptional learning opportunity, whether you are a student or a professional.

The course is based on the results of an extensive and renowned international research programme titled 'Next Generation Infrastructures' (NGInfra).


Module 0: Warming-up

Module 1: The socio-technical complexity of critical infrastructures and the need for a systems approach

Module 2: Fuzzy borders: interconnectedness and interdependencies of critical infrastructures and the role of standards

Module 3: Complex theory for assessing infrastructures

Module 4: Key infrastructural challenges: considerations from a systems approach

Module 5: Smart grids, ICT-architecture and cybersecurity

Module 6: Governance and regulation of complex infrastructures

Module 7: Tools, instruments and frameworks for policy making

Taught by

Margot Weijnen and Ernst ten Heuvelhof


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  • Nicholas Jackson

    Nicholas Jackson completed this course.

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