Infrastructure golden age beckons if engineers adopt digital thinking says new ICE President

Infrastructure golden age beckons if engineers adopt digital thinking says new ICE President

A new golden age of infrastructure – delivering economic growth and better quality of life – is within our grasp if engineers embrace new technology and the mind-set to exploit it. That was the message of new Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) President Tim Broyd at his inaugural address last night.

Speaking in front of over 200 guests from the world of engineering, Broyd, Professor of Built Environment Foresight at University College London set out a vision of an industry that delivered and operated roads, railways and energy & water systems as efficiently and responsively as Uber, Amazon or Google.

He is committed to using his year in office to drive this transformation, including delivery of a major study to be published in April 2017 that will set out a road map for achieving this change. He warned however that companies – and individuals – who did not embrace this agenda were in danger of being left with outmoded skills and business models.

Commenting after his address, he explained: “To date we have largely used technologies such as BIM – 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 they use 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.”

Prof Broyd has had a long and successful career unlocking the benefits that technology can bring to the construction industry. During his career in industry, Tim collaborated with many innovative tech firms, while R&D Director of engineering consultant Atkins this included GroupBC. Its CEO, Sangeev Shah explained the impact this had:

“GroupBC knew that technology would transform the way businesses collaborated across the world and Tim knew exactly what impact this could make to the construction industry. Inspired by the conversations with Tim, GroupBC made a bold decision to focus its efforts in the construction industry and the construction industry alone. As far as technology was concerned, the industry was in the dark ages and together we were confident we could drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. So, not only has he had an impact on the 20,000+ companies that use the GroupBC products today, but a major impact on all others that use competing systems.”

About Tim Broyd:

Tim Broyd has been Professor of Built Environment Foresight and Hon Professor of Civil Engineering at UCL since 2012. This follows a career in industry, during which he gained substantial experience as corporate director of technology, innovation and sustainability for globally operating engineering design consultancies, including both Atkins and Halcrow.

Tim is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. He became a Vice President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2011, and has held responsibility for a number of areas of ICE activities before taking up his new role this week.