The Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre: Keytree & SAP help Costain Group transform UK infrastructure projects

The UK transport sector is responsible for supporting the transport network that serves people and businesses around the UK and controls a £600bn spend portfolio, working with large main contractors who, in turn, work with a variety of sub-contractors. ​Projects include London Underground, high-speed trains and major highways, and feature transportation infrastructure costs, delivery plans, production schedules and carbon footprint strategies.

The UK infrastructure sector used up to 30% of infrastructure project data, gathered from disparate data siloes, to support the management of all its projects. But the industry needed to expand its data visibility and intelligent usage for real-time decisions focused on efficiencies across many project metrics, so it decided to put out a call, requesting the industry to build an integrated platform for information. Following a selection process, Costain Group were awarded the project to develop and establish the Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre (IICC), a cross-industry platform created using SAP technology and Microsoft Azure architecture.

Costain Group delivers integrated leading-edge smart infrastructure solutions across the UK’s transportation, water, energy and defence markets. It also offers consultancy and digital technology services, plus complex project management to deliver national critical infrastructure requirements. The ultimate goal is for the IICC to be used across the construction industry to improve project delivery. The IICC will achieve this by offering greater work visibility, encouraging innovation, and making transportation projects more efficient while lowering emissions and saving public funds.


“The Keytree team has been critical to the success of the IICC project. They help us use SAP Business Technology Platform to turn data into real value for the public and the planet.”

Tim Embley – Research, Innovation & Emerging Technology Director at Costain Group

Keytree helps Costain Group meet an industry challenge

Costain Group, Keytree and SAP co-developed the IICC, leveraging SAP technology to take comprehensive operational data from UK national infrastructure projects and synthesise it onto a common digital platform. As the implementation partner for the IICC, Keytree brought its design-led approach to the development of the platform incorporating data integration and advanced analytics, utilised across all areas of SAP, including SAP Cloud Platform, SAP HANA Services and Qualtrics. Delivery also featured IoT, SAP Analytics Cloud plus complex Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques. The platform currently has modular functionality across Telematics, Project, Commercial, Productivity, Carbon and Social Value, allowing organisations to capture, measure and use data across all critical areas, providing more insight, visibility and control for better informed decisions.

Previously, the transportation bodies ran several solutions, providing reporting and insights into different aspects of a project. Still, it did not have anything that brought together all the data into a single solution. It also wanted to significantly increase the amount of siloed data used to inform decisions. By applying intelligence to another 50% of the total, data visibility increased to 80%, resulting in more intelligent business decisions. The data used includes information from the suppliers that deliver transportation infrastructure projects alongside infrastructure project metrics, including asset usages such as the constitution of machinery and complex financial transactions such as sub-contractor invoicing.

Easy to access data provides greater visibility

The IICC gives Costain Group greater visibility of all its projects, allowing the business to view and understand patterns, including where things are going well or where things need improving, providing transparency in areas that it did not necessarily have already. Data is displayed in a series of SAP Analytics Cloud dashboards combining tables, graphs and charts to present the information in a meaningful way and to ensure the IICC adheres to Costain Group’s requirements, the dashboard focuses on Efficiency, Productivity, Environment, Health & Safety and Commercial. If there are any issues or problems that need action, Costain Group can zoom in and see what is going on without interrupting the people on the ground. The widespread impact and benefits of the IICC include:

  • 30% productivity gains from greater data usage for earthworks construction projects
  • 66% IT infrastructure costs saved due to SAP HANA’s data virtualisation capability
  • 80% data utilisation – up from 30% to drive better business decisions
  • £180bn (or 30% of £600bn spend) cost savings in five years due to project efficiencies
  • Improved carbon transparency to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050
  • Improved environmental impact transparency to significantly reduce noise pollution and improve air quality from construction

The IICC will lay the foundation to support Modern Methods of Construction. It will help Costain Group understand how and where to save money and alter its risk profile, made possible through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The technology provides the ability to compare all previous projects, teasing out patterns covering productivity so Costain Group can review and rearrange and apply to future projects to reduce the risk of overrunning on cost or time. The platform also permits intelligent data usage to manage operations effectively and inform processes such as budgeting, measuring carbon footprint, and building accurate investment cases for a major spend portfolio. Predictive analytics reduces risk to cut costs further while also increasing project efficiencies such as decarbonising activities and building accurate investment cases.

Increasing data value across the infrastructure sector with intelligent technology

As Costain and Keytree continue developing the IICC, innovations are already in the works or prepared for release. Advanced analytics leveraging SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP HANA Cloud, and SAP Data Intelligence Cloud are used to task progress against plans to determine if performance is on track. Simultaneously, time-series analysis correlates combined cost projections and progress models against potentially influencing external factors.

Cloud-based data and analytics using SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Digital Boardroom will enable real-time mapping of construction sites that can be accessed using SAP Integration Suite. Keytree and SAP will deploy Machine Learning using SAP Data Intelligence Cloud to enhance the IICC’s productivity engine and help model complex project plans using external data. Whereas Blockchain technology will enable automated payments through distributed ledger technology using SAP HANA Blockchain service. The SAP Integration Suite will continue to further develop cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-premise integrations with SAP and third-party applications. As the transportation sector continues to increase its data value, Costain is looking to bring the same IICC capabilities to other markets. Whether working in education, capital planning, or criminal justice, full data transparency translates into greater efficiency and cost savings that allow government agencies to run greener while making the most of public funds.