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Digital Roads of the Future


Name: Dr. Jinying Xu 

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research Group: Construction Engineering 

Fellowship period: 1 Sep 2022 - 31 Aug 2025


Personal Website:

Research Interests

Dr. Jinying Xu’s research interests lie broadly at the intersection of smart construction technology and management, sustainability, and data science. Her research departs from the strategical decision-making perspective of organisational digital transformation and focuses on system framework, data architecture, and technology integration aspects. She aims to break the silos of various advanced technologies along different stages and contribute to a collective, synthesized and applicable technology solution. She is also very interested in the humanity issues in human-machine augmentation.

Strategic Themes

Data architecture and model for sustainability

A standardised data architecture and model for consistent carbon calculation, assessment, and optimisation in future roads

Data protocols based on passive and proactive technologies for sustainability

A set of protocols for data collection, storage, analysis, and visualisation based on existing and future attainable technologies, be they passive or proactive, for sustainability assessment in road infrastructure.

Sustainability-orientated decision-making framework

A framework with integrated and appropriate criteria and advanced data analytics and visualisation technologies specialised for sustainability-orientated decision-making for future roads.

Research Project

Project Title:  Data science and digital technologies for intelligent carbon management in the whole life of highway assets 

Abstract: Sustainability is the continued protection of human health and the environment while fostering economic prosperity and societal wellbeing. It is a hit and urgent topic in both industry and academia. For future roads, sustainability is an inevitable theme to be addressed. One of the most intriguing problems in sustainability is its measurement and analysis. This project will focus on data-informed sustainability decision making in future roads. It aims to study what advanced technologies/techniques could be utilized and how they could be integrated and employed to enable data science which will then inform sustainability-orientated decision making for future roads. To fulfil this aim, the project will be organized along the four major stages of data science, i.e., data collection, data analysis, data communication, and decision making. Accordingly, six research objectives are outlined: (1) to expand data availability with advanced sensing and communicating technologies; (2) to develop a standardised data protocol; (3) to develop an advanced big data analytics solution that accounts for different aspects of sustainability in road system; (4) to communicate data analysis results using advanced digital twin and advanced data presentation technologies to decision makers timely, comprehensively, and concisely; (5) to develop appropriate decision making criteria; and (6) to develop an application system framework on top of the above data science technologies for data-informed sustainability-oriented decision making. Research methods to be employed for each of the research objectives and a quarterly research plan are also proposed. 


Dr. Jinying Xu’s research is currently focused on the theme of sustainability and data science in smart construction of future roads. She completed her Ph.D. in construction management and technology at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in 2021, MPhil in mega infrastructure management from Tongji University in 2017, BEng in engineering management and LLB in sociology from Harbin Institute of Technology in 2014. Before joining the University of Cambridge as a Marie Curie co-funded Future Roads Fellow, she worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at HKU and was the research team leader and then a project manager of a 1-million-pound Innovation and Technology Fund project. Her research track-records cover data science for construction sustainability, smart construction and facility management, construction digital transformation, human-organisation-technology fit, and human-machine augmentation in construction engineering. Dr. Xu is the author of 25 peer-reviewed journal papers, 6 book chapters and 13 conference papers till September 2022. She serves as reviewer of over 10 international journals. She is a recipient of buildingSMART International Award and ASCE 2022 Journal of Management in Engineering Best Peer Reviewed Paper. As a Future Roads Fellow, Dr. Xu will endeavour to integrate data science and advanced technologies for sensing and monitoring, data analytics, information communication and visualisation to enable sustainability-orientated decision-making in highway infrastructure projects. She will work with collaborators of different background from academia and industry to develop a data architecture with a full set of protocols and an integrated platform for infrastructure sustainability from design to operation.


Key publications: 

White papers

Building Trustworthiness in Carbon Data to Achieve Net-Zero Across the Life of Highway Assets

Dr Jinying Xu, Dr Kristen MacAskill, and Mr Francesco De Toma

The decarbonisation of the transportation sector is critical to achieving a Net Zero Economy. PAS2080:2023 provides an overarching guidance for carbon management in infrastructure and buildings, but does not extend to covering how the underlying collection, sharing, reporting, and analysis of carbon data takes place. Data trustworthiness issues emerge from stakeholders often relying on obtaining data from others, using different methods and systems. This whitepaper addresses the data trustworthiness issues, identifies its four key pillars and key success factors, and discusses how technology can help. It sets the scene for developing a standardised carbon data model and calls the engagement of value chain stakeholders.

Conference papers

A carbon data trustworthiness framework for the construction sector

Jinying Xu and Kristen MacAskill, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom,

Conference: 2023 European Conference on Computing in Construction and the 40th International CIB W78 Conference