The conjunction of the release of three UK government reports, Industrial Strategy Building A Britiain Fir for the Future, Transforming Infrastructure Performance, and Data for the Public Good, has set the stage for a transformation in how infrastructure is built, managed and operated in the UK. National digital twin is now a key concept for the UK government and BIM and geospatial are foundational for this digital replica of the national physical infrastructure.
Mark Enzer, chief technology officer at Mott MacDonald UK and proposed chair of the Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) which is tasked to drive these reports’ implementation forward in his keynote at Geo Business 2018 in London, explained that there will be a greater focus on existing infrastructure. Digital abundance where the cost of everything digital has dropped dramatically over the last couple of decades has transformed many industries from banks to airlines automobile manufacturing. Construction represents about 10 % of GDP and construction productivity has plateaued over the past 40 years whereas general industrial productivity has doubled. Mark pointed out that the UK has primarily mature infrastructure to maintain and operate and construction has to change to reflect this.
Based on the concept that data in the form of a national digital twin is just as important as phyical assets, digital delivery and physical delivery go hand in hand. Key to digital delivery are BIM, geospatial, a common data environment, and asset information management. A national digital twin would include above and below ground assets.
Managing this data is about making sense of it for better decision making. Fundamental to this process is rethinking value, not just the value of a finished building or infrastructure asset, but output per £ over the entire lifecycle of an infrastructure asset. This means moving beyond BIM Level 2 to full lifecyle BIM including operate and maintain.
A coordinated digital transformation landscape is required to achieve this digital transformation strategy for economic transformation. He sees the many organization in the UK infrastructure and construction sector coalescing around ICG, representing Highways England, Network Rail, Crossrail, Highspeed Rail 2 (HS2), Heathrow Airport and others and Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) representing the UK BIM Alliance and others to enable this to happen. The Centre for Digital Built Britain is a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction for the future and transform the UK construction industry’s approach to the way the UK plans, builds, maintains and uses its social and economic infrastructure.