Jos Wessels MSc
- asset management
One of six national key infrastructure projects, the Zuidas (Southern Axis) to the south of Amsterdam will become a business centre that will boost the international position of the Netherlands. And TNO is lending its helping hand to achieve this.
The Amsterdam Zuidas project concerns area development coupled to improved transport infrastructure (heavy rail, metro, public transport terminal and road). Amsterdam is the initiator of this project whereby the infrastructure is built underground and the business facilities above ground. The funding is a clever mix of public and private money. The government is investing what it costs for the necessary improvements, including maintenance, to the public infrastructure above ground while Amsterdam and private financiers are contributing the extra money required to build the infrastructure underground. The money can be earned back with the profits from the land above ground (property).
TNO is helping draft the requirements that the infrastructure and area development have to fulfil for the three public parties: Amsterdam, ProRail and Rijkswaterstaat. While public parties want cast-iron guarantees that the infrastructure complies with all the requirements and expectations, investors and private commercial players are capable of creating innovative solutions. So the requirements must leave scope for such solutions. The investors, at the same time, want as little risks as possible attached to their investment. This leads to a certain tension and little room to manoeuvre: too tight a requirement may limit solution options in some cases. For instance, one should be constantly aware that some given sets of requirements cannot be united into a design. The key concept is to merely specify desired 'functionality', using the general concepts of 'systems engineering', so one has to be absolutely clear about what is expected of the most important functions of the future road (such as capacity, traffic control systems).
The TNO framework enables the programme of requirements to be sorted and selected to cater for the particular interests of the different users. The requirements have also been arranged by level of detail. Several 'top requirements' lay at the basis and contain the objectives, in global terms. Below this level lies more detail, and at the lowest level 'SMART' requirements have to be formulated. In structuring and formulating the requirements system engineering principles were used, though translating the objectives of the Zuidas infrastructure fully into SMART requirements was often very tricky and sometimes impossible, even leading to heated debate. And the question of how designers will respond to the requirements in the future is another key question that needs to be addressed. Meanwhile, work is being done on embedding the programme of requirements into a collaborative process between public and private parties.