DAFNI Newsletter – October 2020

In this newsletter update I would like to highlight the work we are doing with integrating the National Infrastructure Systems Model (NISMOD) from University of Oxford-led Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) onto the platform. NISMOD is an important model on DAFNI as stated by Professor Jim Hall, “NISMOD is a world first. It integrates national systems analysis of energy, transport, water and digital communication systems, providing evidence for policymakers, planners and infrastructure operators. Not only does it simulate the performance of national infrastructure, it also contains hundreds of layers of national-scale data for systems analysis and visualisation.
“NISMOD is the product of ten years of research by seven of the UK’s leading universities, led by the University of Oxford. DAFNI will provide a permanent home for NISMOD – a lasting legacy that researchers can build upon and practitioners can use in a secure, reliable, high performance computing environment.”
We are also delighted to be supporting STFC’s Food Network and providing the DAFNI platform to support data ingest and modelling looking at topics such as Urban Farming and even Food Fraud. This is opening out the platform to researchers outside of the UK and developing links outside of the UK.
We also are continuing with our DAFNI Roadshow events and recently we met online with researchers across departments in both the University of Bristol and University of Oxford. This was a valuable time to learn more about use cases for DAFNI and to understand how DAFNI can support their research and embed the platform into new research proposals.


Dr Brian Matthews, Project Lead, DAFNI

DAFNI and OpenClim – How DAFNI is supporting this NERC-funded project

In a recent webinar we started to see the power of DAFNI and how it can deliver a suite of tools and services for the research community.

This excellent event was led by Robert Nicholls from the University of East Anglia with colleagues from DEFRA, Climate for Change Committee, Leeds University, Newcastle University, University of Bristol, and The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

The DAFNI team provided demonstrations of the Data Discovery and Modelling capability of the DAFNI platform, the most striking of which was a demonstration from Fergus McClean, University of Newcastle, demonstrating how he brought the CityCAT Urban Flood Model onto DAFNI. CityCAT is a state-of-the-art urban flood modelling system that simulates flow pathways, and water depths and velocities for rainfall events. Buildings, impermeable areas and green areas are explicitly represented in the model.

Click to watch Fergus talking about CityCAT

Click to view the factsheet about the CityCAT model

Find out more about DAFNI and request a user account or talk to us about collaboration at:


DAFNI pilot: Flood People Simulator

The Flood People Simulator allows researchers to carry out dynamic modelling of interactions between flooding and people in crowded areas such as sports stadiums, shopping centres and residential areas.

As well as an important new model for researchers, this is also the first on DAFNI built using FlameGPU and the first written entirely in C code, paving the way for more models in the future.

DAFNI pilot: Transport data feeds

Transport data feeds creates a common format for public transport schedules, overcoming a significant challenge for the transport modelling community by providing a stable and reliable source of all transit data in the UK. The pilot also created new DAFNI functionality which now allows jobs to be scheduled to run on DAFNI at a set time each day.

As well as being invaluable for this workstream, it will also allow DAFNI to create daily snapshots of other

Introducing DAFNI Champion: Dr Juste Raimbault

Preventing disease spread on public transport

Juste is based at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London (UCL) and his work as a Champion for DAFNI involves integrating the MATSim multi-agent transport simulation framework into DAFNI. He will develop the MATSim model to apply it to the current Covid crisis, using the EpiSim model to add pandemic indicators to travel indicators and to model them on DAFNI.

His aim is to have a generic multimodal transport model which can be applied to any UK city. Ultimately, he aims to use the EpiSim variant of MATSim to integrate epidemiological indicators into the transport system modelling, enabling users to test policies and interventions to limit disease spread on public transport.

Read more about his work.

Watch his video introduction.

Introducing DAFNI Champion: Dr Simon Jude

DAFNI’s interaction with the Cranfield Living Laboratory and Urban Observatory

Simon is based at Cranfield University, in the School of Water, Energy and Environment. Within that theme he’s based in the Centre for Environmental and Agri-informatics where he leads a group focusing on risk and decision making.

He also leads Cranfield’s Urban Observatory, which is somewhat unusual in that it’s in a rural location and is a self-contained microcosm of a city with its own airport, and infrastructure, including a water treatment plant and solar farm.

His work as a DAFNI Champion involves developing a pilot Digital Twin using DAFNI to link real-time and near real-time water quality data from Cranfield Urban Observatory and the National Water and Water Treatment Test Facility.

Read more about his work.

Watch his video introduction.

Recent DAFNI enhancements 

Since our last newsletter, enhancements include: 

  • Moving to a more comprehensive metadata schema for datasets
  • Overhaul of dataset details and dataset upload pages to support new metadata schema, improve the look and feel and provide a better user experiencE
  • Adding versioning capability to the Data Catalogue to allow a dataset to have multiple versions that can be explored through the dataset details page
  • Adding an edit button to the dataset details page that will allow admins of a dataset to add a new version, either with new data files or just to change some of the metadata
  • Overhaul of the Data Catalogue to support Elasticsearch to provide comprehensive new search functionality, improve the look and feel and provide a better user experience
  • Adding filtering options – temporal, source, subject and file type filters with counts for how many datasets you can see that match the filter
  • Adding sorting of Data Catalogue by recent, relevance to search criteria and alphabetical
  • Updating of other DAFNI components (NIMS, NIVS, NICE, DSS, etc) to support the NID overhaul

Access DAFNI’s user guides at:


Events to watch!

New ITRC webinar series marks the National Infrastructure Systems Model’s (NISMOD) move to DAFNI

BOOK HERE for October/November events.

View previous event recordings here.

At the launch event, Mark Enzer, Chief Technical Officer of Mott MacDonald & Head of Centre for Digital Built Britain’s National Digital Twin Programme, talked about how fundamental ITRC, NISMOD and the DAFNI facility are to the role of the National Digital Twin moving forwards and how important ITRC’s system of systems approach is to CDBB and thinking about the built environment.

James Richardson, Chief Economist at the National Infrastructure Commission discussed the future of national infrastructure and how decision-makers can address uncertainties… and how ITRC’s NISMOD work provides a robust and impartial evidence base.

Funding & training calls

Funding & training calls cont…

  • Digital Economy Telling Tales of Engagement Competition 2020
    Deadline: 16 December 2020 at 16:00
    The Digital Economy (DE) Theme is running a competition designed to help capture and promote impact arising from existing DE research grants supported by one of the UKRI DE Theme partner councils: EPSRC, ESRC or AHRC.
  • Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) – open call
    Deadline: Proposals are welcome at any time.
    Funding: Funding is provided for up to 24 months with an overall limit of £300,000 (100% fEC) per grant.Funding will be available for around 12-15 proposals a year, subject to quality. This may increase with the involvement of other organisations.
    The Secondary Data Analysis Initiative aims to deliver high-quality high-impact research through utilising existing data resources created by the ESRC and other agencies in order to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society.The Initiative operates alongside ESRC’s Research Grants open call. Proposals will be considered by a Grants Assessment Panel (GAP) that has been specifically convened to consider SDAI proposals.
  • Cancellation of Jan/Feb 2021 Intensive Observing Period (IOP)
    A decision has been made to cancel the Clean Air Programme winter Intensive Observing Period, previously scheduled for Monday 20 January to Friday 28 February 2021. The intention is however to continue as planned with a summer community experiment from Monday 8 June to Friday 17 July 2021. 
8th December 2020