A golden age of infrastructure – delivering economic growth and better quality of life – is within engineers’ grasp if they embrace new technology and adopt the mind-set to exploit it.
That was the thrust of ICE President Tim Broyd’s Presidential address yesterday.
Broyd set out a vision of an industry that delivers and operates infrastructure as efficiently and responsively as Über, Amazon and Google. He is professor of built environment foresight at University College London.
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He said he would use his year in office to drive this transformation, including the delivery of a major study that will set out a road map for achieving this change.
But he warned that those who fail to embrace this agenda risk being left with outmoded skills and business models.
After the address he explained: “To date, we have largely used technologies such as building information modelling to improve the delivery of projects by helping all parties to collaborate more effectively.
“And this has delivered real cost savings – up to 20% according to recent government figures. Looking forward, the real prize will be to embed technology into our assets and networks so that operators can manage them in real time – and the public can take greater control of how it uses the services underpinned by infrastructure.
“In plain English, we will make trains run faster, more frequently and more reliably, we will keep the lights on and help people manage down their energy bills.”
Broyd has had a successful career in harnessing technology in the construction industry and has collaborated with many innovative technology firms. This included GroupBC while he was Atkins research and development director.
“Inspired by the conversations with Tim, GroupBC made a bold decision to focus its efforts in the construction industry and the construction industry alone,” said GroupBC chief executive Sangeev Shah.