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Modern day knowledge sharing

Miranda Housden

The ICE must keep up with the times.

From its foundations in 1818, when a group of young engineers held animated meetings in a London coffee house, the ICE has provided resources to encourage innovation and excellence. Since then members have shared their expertise by getting together for meetings, sharing letters, and publishing their achievements in books and journals - many of which have now been digitized and made available online.

If we want to continue to engage industry and society, we need to make our expertise more accessible to wider audiences by testing new modes of communication. Although far from mature, the mobile market presents an interesting opportunity and will arguably become the most important channel in future. User-friendly, portable and enhanced by striking visuals, few will deny the growing trend to access information through the use of tablet computers, smartphones and via social media outlets.

Learned society activities

The Institution is currently embarking on a project to ensure that Learned Society activities remain topical and relevant to members. Priorities include better communication and transparency, the creation of case studies, knowledge exchange and increased access to information online.

While this process gets underway, ICE London has created its first case study on a live scheme - the London 2012 construction project - by setting up a dedicated web space at ice.org.uk/learninglegacy to provide members, the public and the next generation of civil engineers with informative and interactive multi-platform resources.

Visitors to the site can enjoy our zoomable Ordnance Survey map of the Olympic Park, which explains how engineers overcame the challenges of managing waste, transport, energy and water on the project. They can also investigate the growing film archive of ICE London’s Learning Legacy lecture programme - a series based on the London 2012 special issues of ICE’s Proceedings journal, Civil Engineering, which can also be downloaded from the site.

Micro-documentary

From this month a micro-documentary celebrating the engineering achievements of the Olympic Park will also be hosted on the site, featuring time lapse footage, motion graphics and interviews with John Armitt and his team. We also plan to create a cross-platform app made by children to encourage people to engage with the civil engineering on the park.

Mobile and online communications contributed to our hugely successful involvement in Open House London last September, where hundreds of buildings and construction sites opened their doors to the public for engineer-guided walks and boat tours. These free events were promoted via apps, Facebook and Twitter. Feedback from Londoners was overwhelming; all events were fully booked within hours of the online booking system going live and over the weekend, over 17,000 people participated in events showcasing the role of civil engineers in building, maintaining and transforming the capital’s infrastructure.

ICE London is just dipping its toes into this fast growing new market. We need to adapt quickly and reach far greater audiences using the new modes of communication available to us. We will then be able to transfer our members’ knowledge to a more engaged and informed society who will learn to value the great work of our profession.

  • Miranda Housden is the director of ICE London

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