IN A bid to make a bigger impact on politicians and the public the ICE is to launch a new way of disseminating civil engineering knowledge held within its specialist boards.
The initiative will link the ICE's 15 boards by introducing 12 'cross cutting' themes.
Each board focuses on a different area of civil engineering, ranging from health and safety to transport.
Until now the boards have worked independently of each another, pursuing selfappointed topics of interest.
'It's a big shift in culture - co-ordinating expertise under societal issues instead of subject matter, ' said vice president John Burland. He and ICE engineering knowledge director Amar Bhogal have dubbed the aim of the initiative the 'knowledge to inform'.
By gathering knowledge on key civil engineering related topics, the ICE will be able to inform the public and government of issues lying ahead.
'We're talking about improving the quality of life and influencing government policy, ' said Burland.
The move is also intended to make the activities of the specialist boards more visible to ICE members.
The twelve themes include:
Value of preventing injuries and fatalities
Sustainable infrastructure development
Developing sustainable communities
Civil contingency - the engineer's role
Implications of road user charging for transport networks
ICE 10-year transport plan
Waste management infrastructure
Millennium development goals
Each themes is led by one board and supported by at least one other.
For example, renewable energy is led by the energy board and supported by the maritime board and offshore engineering society. This brings together the knowledge base required to form views on wind energy as well as oil and gas infrastructure requirements.
The ICE is also keeping its door open to other professional bodies, including the Institution of Electrical Engineers for input into the energy efficiency debate.
Other themes, such as the value of preventing fatalities and injuries, span a number of areas including roads, railways, fire and public building collapses. This theme is being used as a vehicle to educate the public, academics, government departments and the media on issues surrounding safety.
The boards have met twice already in their new cross collaborating mode and are due to produce reports in the next few months.
'In the coming years we will develop the themes - these could result in a position statement submitted to government.
This could be a view on tunnelling being too expensive and unsafe, ' said Burland.
At present boards focus on contributing to government consultations but the process is largely reactive.
'Now we can be proactive and raise issues of national importance ourselves, ' Burland said. He added that in doing so members will become more aware of what the boards actually do.
'It's amazing that the ICE boards advise government, but are not recognised by the members, ' he said.
The ICE boards are the best place for members to exercise their expertise, said Burland.
However, some boards have become too focussed on single issues, he admitted.
'It's a symptom of loving one subject too much.'
The ICE is calling for members to contribute fresh ideas to the boards to keep their work relevant.
Ideas could range from research into areas absent from the ICE's library or internet resource to investigating causes of civil engineering failures.
'After the Heathrow tunnel collapse, we had a working group set up within a week and were able to help the Health & Safety Executive with their investigation. We can get to work very quickly, ' Burland said.
Existing boards The current ICE boards are:
Energy environment and sustainability
Health and safety
Structural and building
Innovation and research
Historical lInformation, communications and technology.
Members can contribute topics to the boards or join boards by contacting the board coordinator. See the ICE website for more details - www. ice. org. uk - or contact John Bennett on (020) 7665 2205.