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Spreading the message

Presenting research results in future will include electronic publishing - as well as the familiar formats.

There was a time when the only fruit of any particular CIRIA project was the final report. This could have a major impact on industry practice - but there were and are obvious limitations to the classic research report format as a means of disseminating

information - especially within the construction industry. To speak to those who are unlikely to encounter a CIRIA report and even less likely to read one, CIRIA has had to look at other forms of communication.

The long running project on waste minimisation and recycling is a good example. 'Three years ago we produced the first review of best practice in this field,' says environment group head Jon Bootland . 'Then came a site guide, plus a design manual and a handbook aimed directly at the boardroom.'

Part of the site guide could be detached to form posters, he adds. The next step was to develop a training pack, with more posters and a supporting video. A series of implementation seminars followed, aimed mainly at the smaller companies.

'But there are still people out there who will only be convinced by seeing other people successfully following our recommendations,' Bootland says. 'So now we're extending the project to include the monitoring of at least 10 sites throughout the UK that will be implementing a range of the measures we now recommend.'

These sites will include demolition as well as construction, house building and civil engineering, small companies as well as large. Results from the monitoring could also appear in a number of forms, Bootland says, adding: 'I believe this project is a model for other CIRIA projects, current and future.'

Video, and CD-ROM and its successors, will feature increasingly in CIRIA's future plans. Even one of the success stories of recent years, a series of site guides to everything from foundation design to temporary access equipment, is being complemented by electronic formats. The all-time best seller, is the pocket guide to setting out procedures now in its second edition, which has saved the face of many a graduate engineer arriving on site for the first time. A complementary video has been available for seven years, but there are as yet no plans to put this onto CD-ROM.

CIRIA's first CD-ROM, just out, is a logical development of another popular practical guide, the site safety handbook. The mixture of text and video clips on the disc will, CIRIA hopes, be even more effective in getting the safety message over than the traditional book. But there will always be a place for the book, says technology group head Fin Jardine.

His pet project at the moment is the effect of the Jubilee Line Extension on the buildings in central London it passes under. 'London became a laboratory,' he says. 'Usually when a building moves you don't know why - but here we knew exactly when the tunnelling would take place under the 12 major buildings we monitored.'

These included the Houses of Parliament, the Ritz Hotel and the Royal Automobile Club with its basement swimming pool. For the first time both the effects of tunnelling and the success of such preventative measures as compensation grouting could be measured precisely. Results of the surveys will be presented in a number of formats - reports, procedural notes, papers in learned journals - and there are plans for a conference at Imperial College in 2000. But this will not be all, Jardine promises.

He explains: 'One of the problems of such a large and complex project as this is that the information leaks out in dribs and drabs, dissipating its impact.

'So we plan to bring out a book covering every aspect of the project, the whole story in one place, including the interpretation of the results and our seminal conclusions. This will maximise the impact.'

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