Development of Research Strategy

TII’s Statement of Strategy describes the mission, strategic goals, objectives and output of TII, along with the business environment in which these are carried out.

Background

Transport Infrastructure Ireland was established as from 1 August 2015 when the Railway Procurement Agency was merged with the National Roads Authority under the Roads Act 2015. TII’s primary functions are:
 
  • To provide an integrated approach to the future development and operation of the national roads network and the light rail infrastructure network throughout Ireland, and 
  • To secure the provision of safe and efficient networks of national roads and light rail. 
 
TII has overall responsibility for planning and supervision of construction and maintenance works on these networks. Its remit extends to any training, research and testing activities necessary for the execution of its functions in areas of project planning, construction, maintenance and operations.
 
TII recognises the value of research and the important role it plays in achieving strategic objectives. In 2007 TII initiated a Research Strategy to ensure that all its research activities were carried out in a coordinated way. The aim of the Research Strategy is to promote practical measures that will contribute to quality-enhancing and/or cost-reducing innovation and achieve an appropriate balance between safety, cost and sustainability. Research topics are identified by TII staff in response to the business needs of TII and procures research projects using an open competitive call for proposals in line with TII’s procurement policies. The Research and Standards Section manages TII Research and coordinates all the research activities across the different areas associated with the provision and operation of TII’s road and rail networks.
 
The Research Strategy provides the basis for the ongoing research activities within TII. It provides for both short-term commercial research services in response to the business needs of TII and longer-term research projects at PhD or post-doctoral level. It also provides the basis for TII involvement in collaborative research and other ad hoc research initiatives necessitated by business needs. The Research Strategy supports TII’s Corporate Strategy and overall goals as outlined in the TII Statement of Strategy 2019-2023.
 
The content for the research programme is developed by TII on an annual basis in line with the framework outlined in this document and in response to current research needs as identified by individual TII staff members and other stakeholders. The annual research programme reflects changes in priorities and new areas of interest. A key element of all TII research projects is an implementation plan to ensure the implementation of the research results in a practical and timely way.

Introduction

The world continues to undergo unprecedented development in new and emerging technologies. Developments in science and technology are occurring very rapidly and the demands that these place on the operation of road and light rail networks require continuous consideration in response to the changing needs and preferences of the travelling public and business. To ensure the success of TII in carrying out its objectives, it is vital that a culture of research and innovation is embedded within the organisation to take full advantage of state-of-the-art materials, techniques and procedures.
 
A key element of this culture is an active research programme, developed by and maintained across the whole organisation to support TII’s mission to provide high quality transport infrastructure and services, delivering a better quality of life and supporting economic growth. TII is committed to investing in research and development so that its networks are able to meet current and future requirements to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. It must be able to engage designers and contractors to assess and challenge engineering solutions from a knowledgeable standpoint, understanding both the technical detail and the economic, environmental and social implications.
 
The benefits of research to TII are as follows: 
 
  1. Research provides an effective mechanism for maintaining up-to-date standards and specifications;
  2. It enables procedures and systems to be developed for the efficient and cost-effective management of very valuable national assets;
  3. It ensures that state-of-art materials and methods are identified and used;
  4. It ensures that TII is positioned and looking well ahead at potential advancements and innovations in order to anticipate and exploit technological developments in good time and
  5. It facilitates the professional development of TII staff and helps them to stay abreast of current advances in science and technology.
 
As TII does not have any significant internal research capability, it commissions research services from external parties and organisations on an open and competitive basis as and when required. The framework for this is provided in the TII Research Strategy which was established to ensure that all research activities are carried out in a structured and coordinated way. This Strategy provides the basis for TII’s approach to research and the ongoing research activities within TII.
 
TII develops its research programme annually in line with this strategy and in response to current research needs as identified by individual TII staff members and other stakeholders. The programme closely aligns with the TII Statement of Strategy and reflects changes in priorities and new areas of interest. A key component of each research project or initiative adopted under the programme is an implementation plan to ensure that the dissemination and implementation of the research results in a timely and practical way.

Research Objectives

The main aim of the TII research programme is to enable TII to carry out its mission of “providing high quality transport infrastructure and services, delivering a better quality of life and supporting economic growth”. Research is one of the key ways that TII informs operational policy and sets standards. Emphasis is on:
  • what is likely to be the TII needs,
  • ensuring that state-of-the-art techniques are used,
  • filling knowledge gaps where they exist,
  • implementing the research conclusions and integrating the research outputs in a timely and effective way.
 
The research programme covers all areas of TII responsibility including planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations. The research commissioned by TII generally focuses on short-term goals driven by current business plan targets. Longer-term, more fundamental research may also be undertaken where appropriate. During the process of developing research topics, stakeholder engagement is encouraged to help shape of the research programme at an early stage.
 
TII uses the research programme outputs to:
  • provide and/or improve standards, specifications and procedures,
  • identify, encourage and facilitate innovation,
  • assist in the professional development of staff and enhancement of TII operations.