Most of our current national infrastructure will still be here in 30 years' time. To think about the future of infrastructure facilities management, we must therefore consider the assets we have today. In January 2020, the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland articulated this as part of its "Making the most of existing assets" agenda as a presumption in favour of 'enhance, re-purpose and maintain' over developing new assets, an agenda developed in the context of Scotland's ambitious net zero carbon targets.[1]

Technology will have a key role to play in that agenda. Smart infrastructure is the combination of physical and digital infrastructure to provide data which enables faster and cheaper decision making and asset management. The importance of that data cannot be underestimated in the facilities management sector. Technology such as digital twinning has a potentially profound impact on the way in which facilities management is carried out. One of the key issues in the context of optimising existing assets in the future will be the ability to retrofit smart infrastructure into those assets.

Where new infrastructure assets are being built, the way those assets are funded will have an impact on how they are managed. For example, Scotland's new schools investment programme, the Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP), will be partially funded by the Scottish Government's new outcomes based funding model, where local authorities will be provided revenue grant funding dependent on energy, lifecycle and maintenance performance of their buildings. One of the impacts of this outcome based incentivisation in the facilities management sector will be the utilisation of an increasing amount of smart infrastructure to provide the data needed to assess building performance.

From a legal perspective, a key challenge will be the mechanics of contracting in a way that is flexible enough to adapt as the technology evolves over the lifetime an asset. Project data, which traditionally has been a relatively straightforward element of contracting in this space, will become more complex (in particular in the field of Artificial Intelligence in Facilities Management). Particular consideration will need to be given to data management and ownership where smart infrastructure is being retrofitted to existing PPP assets under arrangements which may have been entered into over 20 years ago.

Programmed and reactive maintenance, in light of live data, takes on a different complexion and wording relating to how those maintenance plans are developed, and in particular how lifecycle funds are used, may need to be more closely linked to the actual performance of a building over time, rather than the modelled performance available at contract execution. 

  [1] Phase 1: Key Findings "A blueprint for Scotland", Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, January 2020 (