FA Networks

An integrated network of utilities and infrastructure

Networks represent the largest part of the built environment. They are the fundamental backbone through which European social cohesion and economic growth is being promoted and developed. Moreover, the impact of networks on the European economy is significant as the efficiency of the networks is the basis of the European competitiveness against strong competitors and low cost economies.

FA Networks

Under "Networks" the European Commission does include all types of services that are offered to citizens such as transport infrastructures (roads, railways, waterways etc) that assure quick and safe mobility of persons and goods and infrastructures of services (gas, water, energy, telecommunications, postal services, etc) that make our working and living conditions easier and more comfortable.

Owners and operators of any network, whether at local, national or international level, are legally responsible for its correct, continuous and safe functioning and owe a duty of care to the public and the users/consumers. This means that owners and operators must concern themselves with aspects of safety and security, user satisfaction, congestion, maintaining asset value, sustainability and accessibility. The latter must be balanced with meeting local, regional and central government objectives on, for example, economic and territorial development, health and social issues.

All issues above demand the maximum usage of the current networks and impact upon the funding of growth, operation and upkeep. Furthermore, to provide a commensurate return to governments and stakeholders (including citizens) on their investment in a network (by public money or according to tariffs), the service provided should be satisfactory, and demonstrably so.

These infrastructures must be seen as a unique integrated product or system that includes different functions and answers to different needs throughout its lifecycle and in accordance with end-user needs.

FA Networks

An integrated approach and unifying perspective to the networks is therefore proposed: integrated because it has to cover the whole life cycle (from conception through to construction and operation to eventual demolition and replacement), from components to system and from research to optimal use.

Five main lines of activity for future research are identified at the moment: management of the assets (incl. life cycle management), impact on the environment, safety and security, answer to increasing demand (i.e. mobility), inter-modality and inter-operability.

It is hoped to assure the economic but sustainable development of Europe by: guaranteeing functional, innovative networks of infrastructures and utilities combined with integrated services.

If you are interested in participating or if you want more information, please contact Ms Livia Pardi from Autostrade per l'Italia and Mr Frédéric Bourquin from IFSTTAR who are leading this Focus Area.