Research Topic

Developing Sustainable Urban Water Infrastructure via Smart Decision Support Systems and Trenchless Technology-based Mitigation Strategies

About this Research Topic

The majority of underground utility assets are comprised of water transmission, distribution, and collection pipelines. Because these pipes are typically buried underground and aging over time, the asset management tasks, including inventory data collection, condition assessment and decision making are complex processes that are challenging to enhance sustainability without advanced research and innovation in utility asset technology. Recent studies have revealed an overall increasing rate of decay of underground infrastructure, which result in decreasing a utility’s liability of infrastructures. The significant deterioration of urban water infrastructure is accompanied by emerging uncertainty in the performance of these networks. This uncertainty signifies the importance of developing intelligent decision tools to increase the operational resilience of these assets by targeting the right ones for further intervention. Enhanced mitigation strategies involve the implementation of optimized and cost-efficient decision support tools, as well as minimally disruptive condition assessment, repair and renewal methods.
An efficient and successful development of underground utility asset management promotes trenchless technology; an important group of pipe repair and installation methods that minimize disruption during construction. Trenchless technologies have developed rapidly and continue to have regular innovations in the industry. From this constant innovation, breakthrough achievements emerge in numerous areas annually.

The goal of this Research Topic is to highlight:
• Novel research trends in the smart urban water infrastructure management field, including, but not limited to, decision support tools, methods and strategies to optimally allocate financial resources towards high-risk assets management measures;
• Recent advances in proactive mitigation strategies focused on the implementation of trenchless technology as a cost-efficient pipe repair and renewal solution.

Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to:
• Re-engineering traditional urban water infrastructure management practices with smart management strategies
• Applying innovation and creativity to tackle uncertainty due to various unforeseen and undesired events, e.g. droughts, flooding, local economic hardships, seismic activity, and global pandemic
• Development of actionable solutions by integrating big data, analytical tools, advanced GIS models, statistical models and artificial intelligence
• Development of innovative pressure and non-pressure pipe repair materials and test methods to decrease construction costs and allow utilities to efficiently allocate their tightening budgets to maximize their capital improvement projects. Some examples of such research include reinforced spray-on coting material, innovative curing methods for spray-on cementitious coatings, new surface wave techniques for pipe assessment, and innovative methods for pipe removal)


Papers submitted to this collection should highlight both the practical application of these innovations, but also the fundamental advancements and scientific theory behind them. Authors are encouraged to prepare and submit their original research works focusing on, but not limited to:
• Advancements in risk analysis (probability of failure, consequence of failure) and sustainable asset management.
• Strategic approaches for integrity planning of urban water infrastructure.
• During and post-pandemic infrastructure asset management.
• Advancements in underground asset inspection, assessment techniques, and their theory.
• Advancements in pipe condition assessment technology – for example, electromagnetics, ultrasonics, and acoustics.
• Advancements in spatial and attribute data collection and data integration including inspection and GIS data integration, UAV photogrammetry, and automated surveying techniques.
• Advancements in visualization in underground utility asset systems including digital twin, scanning to BIM, and VR/ AR.
• New smart asset digitalization technology research and development including IoT sensor and big-data, smart pipe network system, machine learning and AI decision making support systems.
• Advancements in pipe installation technology (e.g. horizontal directional drilling and microtunneling), and rehabilitation technology (e.g. cured-in-place pipe, liner material, and spot repairs), highlighting the scientific contributions of the methods.
• Advancements in pressure pipe repair materials, science, and associated testing.

The Topic Editors, Sepideh Yazdekhasti and Greta Vladeanu are currently affiliated with Xylem Inc; Elnaz Peyghaleh is currently employed by Structural Technologies. The other Topic Editors declare no potential Conflicts of Interest.


Keywords: urban water infrastructure, infrastructure asset management, trenchless technology, uncertainty, post-pandemic management, sustainability


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The majority of underground utility assets are comprised of water transmission, distribution, and collection pipelines. Because these pipes are typically buried underground and aging over time, the asset management tasks, including inventory data collection, condition assessment and decision making are complex processes that are challenging to enhance sustainability without advanced research and innovation in utility asset technology. Recent studies have revealed an overall increasing rate of decay of underground infrastructure, which result in decreasing a utility’s liability of infrastructures. The significant deterioration of urban water infrastructure is accompanied by emerging uncertainty in the performance of these networks. This uncertainty signifies the importance of developing intelligent decision tools to increase the operational resilience of these assets by targeting the right ones for further intervention. Enhanced mitigation strategies involve the implementation of optimized and cost-efficient decision support tools, as well as minimally disruptive condition assessment, repair and renewal methods.
An efficient and successful development of underground utility asset management promotes trenchless technology; an important group of pipe repair and installation methods that minimize disruption during construction. Trenchless technologies have developed rapidly and continue to have regular innovations in the industry. From this constant innovation, breakthrough achievements emerge in numerous areas annually.

The goal of this Research Topic is to highlight:
• Novel research trends in the smart urban water infrastructure management field, including, but not limited to, decision support tools, methods and strategies to optimally allocate financial resources towards high-risk assets management measures;
• Recent advances in proactive mitigation strategies focused on the implementation of trenchless technology as a cost-efficient pipe repair and renewal solution.

Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to:
• Re-engineering traditional urban water infrastructure management practices with smart management strategies
• Applying innovation and creativity to tackle uncertainty due to various unforeseen and undesired events, e.g. droughts, flooding, local economic hardships, seismic activity, and global pandemic
• Development of actionable solutions by integrating big data, analytical tools, advanced GIS models, statistical models and artificial intelligence
• Development of innovative pressure and non-pressure pipe repair materials and test methods to decrease construction costs and allow utilities to efficiently allocate their tightening budgets to maximize their capital improvement projects. Some examples of such research include reinforced spray-on coting material, innovative curing methods for spray-on cementitious coatings, new surface wave techniques for pipe assessment, and innovative methods for pipe removal)


Papers submitted to this collection should highlight both the practical application of these innovations, but also the fundamental advancements and scientific theory behind them. Authors are encouraged to prepare and submit their original research works focusing on, but not limited to:
• Advancements in risk analysis (probability of failure, consequence of failure) and sustainable asset management.
• Strategic approaches for integrity planning of urban water infrastructure.
• During and post-pandemic infrastructure asset management.
• Advancements in underground asset inspection, assessment techniques, and their theory.
• Advancements in pipe condition assessment technology – for example, electromagnetics, ultrasonics, and acoustics.
• Advancements in spatial and attribute data collection and data integration including inspection and GIS data integration, UAV photogrammetry, and automated surveying techniques.
• Advancements in visualization in underground utility asset systems including digital twin, scanning to BIM, and VR/ AR.
• New smart asset digitalization technology research and development including IoT sensor and big-data, smart pipe network system, machine learning and AI decision making support systems.
• Advancements in pipe installation technology (e.g. horizontal directional drilling and microtunneling), and rehabilitation technology (e.g. cured-in-place pipe, liner material, and spot repairs), highlighting the scientific contributions of the methods.
• Advancements in pressure pipe repair materials, science, and associated testing.

The Topic Editors, Sepideh Yazdekhasti and Greta Vladeanu are currently affiliated with Xylem Inc; Elnaz Peyghaleh is currently employed by Structural Technologies. The other Topic Editors declare no potential Conflicts of Interest.


Keywords: urban water infrastructure, infrastructure asset management, trenchless technology, uncertainty, post-pandemic management, sustainability


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

22 February 2021 Manuscript
24 May 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

22 February 2021 Manuscript
24 May 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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