The risks to construction organisations of not embracing digital ways of working were highlighted at a major London construction summit where contributors included PCSG’s Dr Jennifer Macdonald.

Digital information management and the use of digital tools and technologies is rapidly becoming a core component of the built-asset sector, the Digital Construction Summit was told.  Firms reluctant to implement this approach risked challenges ranging from losing out on work to a wave of disruptors, through to regulatory and legal risks.

The inaugural event brought together around 150 individuals from client, contractor and consultant organisations with responsibility for driving BIM and digital innovation.

Its objective was to discuss progress towards achieving the Government’s Level 2 mandate for BIM – the process of generating, building and managing data through the life of a project by using model-based technologies linked to a database of project information – share some of the benefits that had been unlocked and identify the next steps needed to establish a fully ‘digitally-built’ Britain.

Organised by Atom Publishing, publisher of BIM+ and Construction Manager, the event partners included Pinsent Masons and the Chartered Institute of Building.

Jennifer, our Senior BIM Consultant, was part of a panel discussion entitled How digital technology can transform the built environment sector; progress to date, challenges and opportunities. The panel, which was chaired by David Philp, global BIM/IM consultancy director at AECOM, discussed topics ranging from the key drivers for process and productivity transformation to robotics.

Until recently, it has seemed that the phrase-of-the-moment is ‘digital disruption’, with asset owners being forced to abandon their existing data platforms, processes and systems in favour of new ones,” Jennifer said. “It’s no wonder that many organisations have become quite cynical, associating digital transformation with pain and upheaval.”

She explained that PCSG had developed its own platform – GeoConnect+ – to enable organisations to be able to view and analyse data from multiple existing sources (both private and publicly accessible) to provide clients with new insights into their infrastructure assets. It brings together geospatial (GIS) and BIM data as well as providing advanced visualisation capabilities.

The discussion also included the increasing use of “unstructured” data – that is, data that is not organised in a pre-defined manner. A question was raised of the panel as to whether this marked “the end” of structured data.

Jennifer explained that the change was “not about one cancelling out the other”. She said: “Big, unstructured data sets still have to be cleansed and ordered and analysed in such a way that they become useful and structured data will always be more straightforward to collect and use.

“However, it does mean that we will see more and more need for data science professionals within our infrastructure industry, with the necessary data manipulation skills.”

She acknowledged that this was “a radical change for an industry more associated with bricks and mortar than programming and analytics.”

For more information on how PCSG helps organisations to unlock the value of their built assets through a digital approach, please contact our Business Development Director, Olly.Thomas@pcsg.co.uk