A step change in infrastructure and tech

Never has technology offered so much potential to improve how we plan, invest, deliver and manage our infrastructure


Our infrastructure supports our communities, public services, wellbeing and economic growth. It encompasses all assets that enable the delivery of public ser- vices including schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity and housing. Tomorrow’s infrastructure will

be shaped by the creative use of data. Te connecting of new and emerging technologies founded on robust information will change what we do, how we do it, and the outcomes achieved. So, it is an exciting and im-

portant time to be involved in the infrastructure sector. Never has technology offered so much potential to improve how we plan, invest, deliver and manage our infrastructure. And the Scot- tish Government’s step change in investment for infrastructure provides us with an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of the technologies we need. “On current estimates that would mean around £7 billion of extra infrastructure investment by the end of the next Parliament. Tat is investment that will deliver jobs and allow our communi- ties to flourish and businesses to grow and export more.”- Scottish Government Programme for Gov- ernment, [September] 2018. New infrastructure technologies

are emerging with pace. Tese will improve how we develop and deliver infrastructure and help to make the buildings we use more efficient and effective. 3D design, virtual reality, building sensors, laser scanning and cloud-based data sharing, are only some examples of technologies being applied in innovative ways. Te market place is growing

between infrastructure clients and technology companies. Between 2013 and 2018, globally, $18billion of investment has been attracted to the construction technology market place. McKinsey [Septem- ber] 18. Te trend is one of con- tinuing technology development and a step change in investment. Tis pace of change brings oppor- tunities as well as challenges. Given its demand potential

and collective buying power, the public sector in Scotland is well placed to help shape things going forward. Our focus will be on improving the performance of the infrastructure created, improv- ing delivery, and improving the performance, productivity and sustainability of industry. Te platform for developing the

change across the public sector in Scotland is Building Informa- tion Modelling (BIM). BIM is the process of accurately creating, managing and exchanging digital information within the built environment. It is creating a new capability – focussed on data and technology - for improving infrastructure performance. Te adoption of BIM processes will help things move faster and in a more informed manner. Te public sector BIM pro-

gramme in Scotland is led by the Scottish Futures Trust on behalf of Scottish Government and has delivered new tools, guidance and policy. Tis has been done in col- laboration with industry through the work of the Construction Scot-

land Innovation Centre who with the support of Scottish Enterprise are delivering a programme of training to support industry move to a more digital way of working. Within the first year of launching the Scottish Government BIM pol- icy and SFT guidance portal, £1bn of public sector projects within Scotland were implementing BIM on new construction projects. We are already seeing a lot of

new applications such as mapping software at the planning stage to improve investment decisions, 3D computer modelling technology supporting the design stage to im- prove productivity and stakehold- er engagement, 360 degree photo capture technology to monitor construction progress and quality. Finally for the management stage, new sensor technology can pro- vide live feedback to improve how we operate and utilise our assets to

improve services and environmen- tal performance. But to make best use of these

new technologies the pace of adoption and improving capabil- ity needs to increase. In parallel to the ongoing BIM programme, SFT will seek to do more to address these challenges with the devel- opment of a new Infrastructure Technology Navigator. Tis new platform will complement the ex- isting set of BIM tools. It will raise awareness and it will support the adoption of these important tech- nologies by the public sector. Trough the investment, leader-

ship and resources available within Scotland, the platform for deliver- ing a step change in technology is in place to increase the perfor- mance of our infrastructure and improve the services they deliver., it is what we do now that will shape tomorrows infrastructure. l

Paul Dodd is Head of Infrastructure Technology at the Scottish Futures Trust

3D computer modelling technology in the design stage reduces errors and improves stakeholder engagement


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