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ODU to Host IEEE International Conference on Next Generation Infrastructures

Old Dominion University has been selected to host the fourth annual Next Generation Infrastructures conference this year, Nov. 16-18.

The conference, which will attract 200 leading researchers from around the world in the field of infrastructure, will look at the design, analysis, operation and evolution of critical infrastructure globally, now and in the future.

"The study of infrastructure has reached a critical juncture from a multidimensional viewpoint - economic, engineering, social, environmental and international dimensions," said Adrian Gheorghe, Batten Chair of Systems Engineering in ODU's Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering.

Gheorghe said the idea for a conference pulling together the world's leading minds in future infrastructure study came from the Next Generation Infrastructure Foundation, which is based in the Netherlands. After the foundation hosted the inaugural conference in Rotterdam, subsequent events have been held in India and China the past two years.

The future of critical infrastructure in the United States is especially important now because so many issues are combining to create challenges for these complex, interconnected networks, Gheorghe said. "We have to look at these things from all dimensions: aging, which results in technical issues, and natural hazards, like Hurricane Katrina. Or it could be malicious attack, or a different type of terrorism. It could be cyber attack. It is very fashionable now to consider a cyber attack on our infrastructure."

Areas highlighted at the conference will include security, protection and assessment of critical infrastructures, new methods for design and operation, modeling and simulation in critical infrastructure advances, and the role of governance and management issues in critical infrastructure.

Gheorghe said Norfolk is a logical host site for the 2011 conference because of the "knot" of critical infrastructure here - from bridges and tunnels to ports and military installations.

"It's a region where there is a critical infrastructure nexus - transportation, electricity, ports, research units like NASA and the military. They come together, and by their interactions, it's very interesting to see how it impacts society," he said.

Also, through ODU's Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, and its National Centers for System of Systems Engineering, based in Innovation Research Park @ ODU, there is a stable of researchers who are making significant contributions to the discussion of next-generation infrastructure.

"The concept of forecasting has changed," Gheorghe said. "In the 1960s and '70s, it meant extrapolation of existing situations and seeing what happens. Now we are talking about scenarios. We're in a totally different era. There's a need for a new way of looking at situations."

The conference will be held at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center.

This article was posted on: January 20, 2011

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