Going digital to advance global infrastructure

Infrastructure is crucial to socio-economic stability and quality of life for people of every nation. It is essential to modern living and provides the basis for our connectivity worldwide. As the population of the world’s cities continues to grow exponentially, the demand for new, and improvements to existing, infrastructure becomes increasingly urgent.

Infrastructure capital projects are typically complex and involve expertise in numerous disciplines. One of the major challenges in such projects is the effective management and accessibility of vast amounts of data from multiple sources and for dispersed project teams.

While software technology has improved processes for designing and building projects, valuable project data has historically been somewhat “dark”, siloed and disconnected, or sometimes even in paper form. It can, therefore, be outdated due to project changes, or otherwise unusable or inaccessible by other teams on the same project and for future projects or purposes.

Because the work of all infrastructure project participants shares a dependency upon the evolving conditions at the physical work site, dark data can make the collaboration required to complete a project difficult and disjointed, perhaps even leading to safety concerns, costly mistakes and missed project milestones.

Connected data environment

Advances in cloud computing and infrastructure applications, such as those offered by Bentley Systems, enable a connected data environment, which facilitates more continuous digital workflows throughout an entire project, from conception through construction and commissioning. In digital workflows, data captured or created for one purpose can be used for other purposes, saving time, minimising rework and improving data quality over an infrastructure asset’s life cycle.

Digital twin

For instance, with a connected data environment, the digital context of a work site can be represented as an engineering-ready, 3D “reality mesh” processed from photographs, scanned imagery, or both, and then updated continuously through drone surveys. This real-time digital context, or digital twin of the physical project, enables immersive visualisation of construction progress and inspections, including through virtual reality and augmented reality devices, such as with Bentley’s Synchro 4D construction scheduling and management software, together with technology like Microsoft’s Hololens. Design and construction status reviews become continuous and comprehensive. Each discipline and trade are better equipped to avoid errors and interferences with other teams’ work, and have better visibility into schedules and safety, which leads to overall improved project performance.

With further connectivity through the internet of things, the digital twin can be updated with sensor data throughout the life cycle of the asset, providing owners and operators insight into real-time data to manage operations, safety and proactive maintenance.

Commitment to going digital

Realising the full benefits and potential of digital workflows enabled through a connected data environment depends upon a commitment to going digital, eliminating traditional, paper-based processes and integrating technology solutions for every infrastructure capital project. But it also requires the willingness of project teams to maintain transparency and accountability in their information-sharing, and to agree on what information will be shared, by whom, and in what time frame.

The construction industry has historically lagged in its adoption of innovations in technology and the need for streamlined project delivery for infrastructure projects has never been greater. Going digital, or embracing digital workflows, is crucial for the safe, efficient and cost-effective delivery of projects that advance the world’s infrastructure.

Year in Infrastructure conference

From October 15 to 19, Bentley Systems hosts its annual Year in Infrastructure 2018 conference at London’s Hilton Metropole. Thought leaders and leading executives in infrastructure from around the world discuss innovations in design, engineering, construction and operations to help organisations reach their digital potential.

View the conference agenda at https://yii.bentley.com

To learn more about Bentley Systems please visit www.bentley.com