Innovation is the key to managing big data and intelligent infrastructure

In response to the challenges and opportunities facing the infrastructure industry, CIRIA held an industry panel discussion ‘Smart construction & intelligent infrastructure’ on 13 March 2014 featuring case studies from leading organisations.

Chair, John Beckford, UCL, opened the discussion with James Hardy, RSSB; Paul Bathgate, SelexES; Stephen Smith, Crossrail; David Smith, SEAMS and Phi Jackson, BIM Task Force & ICE representative by highlighting the challenges of using and managing asset data with disparate and legacy systems and the innovative solutions which have been developed.

This point was echoed in the RSSB presentation from James Hardy, which illustrated how the rail sector is using new technology and data information drive forward future railway development sustainably.

The difficulties of managing the complex information of combined new and legacy assets and information, is being addressed through a variety of digital and technology competitions including TSB Call – Digital Railways and FuTRO – Calls for Universal Data and SuperMap.

On the topic of transferring and rationalising thinking and ideas from one sector to another, Paul Bathgate of SelexES, (information technology company for defence systems, aerospace, data, and infrastructures) illustrated how they are currently transferring defence technology expertise to transport logistics.

David Smith, SEAMS Ltd, considered where we can go with analytics, using comparative models of descriptive, predictive and prescriptive within an analytic matrix to identify relationships between predicted and actual.

The following presentation from Crossrail’s Information Application Manger, Stephen Smith, offered examples of innovative materials and technologies which are being used in the current construction of Crossrail, creating extensive, coherent data sets for infrastructure construction and monitoring.

Phil Jackson outlined how the BIM strategy from the BIM Task Group, aims to pull data from traditional paper documents and into intelligent systems to create a usable and comparable set of data. Highlighting again the rapid development and innovation in the collection and use of data, Phil Jackson drew our attention to recent innovative projects from around the globe including Google’s Project Tango, Apple’s iBeacon and 3D concrete printing from Loughborough University.

Predicting the future and investing in innovation can be a risk, within a risk adverse construction industry. However, fostering a culture of innovation and adopting new technologies is paramount to the future of effective asset management. To meet this demand a number of new research centres and innovation platforms have emerged to fast track the development and deployment of new technologies, heralding a new dawn in construction, delivery and management of infrastructure.

Smart construction & intelligent infrastructure is improving performance, engagement and encouraging innovation in the supply chain.

Smart construction and intelligent infrastructure was the first of a series of events in our CIRIA’s new civil infrastructure theme. You can stay up to date with our activities at our new webpage: