Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

Opinion

A platform for human flourishing

27 May 2020 | By Jennifer Schooling, Mark Enzer

Jennifer Schooling and Mark Enzer call for a reframed infrastructure to deliver better outcomes for people.

Jennnifer Schooling

The response to covid-19 has shone a light on what can be achieved through leveraging the collaborative power of government, academics, industry and community working together against a common threat towards a shared goal.

Our current national crisis also brings unprecedented focus to the value of data and digital to help save lives. Modelling risk and impact continues to play a key role in tackling the covid-19 crisis, and data is informing decision-making as we prepare tentative steps from total lockdown and back to business.

As we make crucial strategic plans to revive our post-pandemic society and economy, we must reflect on lessons learned and the potential prize of our sector working together to secure a greater good for the people served by our infrastructure and built environment.

Infrastructure is a complex and interconnected system of systems on which we wholly depend. In order to make our infrastructure sustainable and fit for purpose to provide the services that enable human flourishing – and unlock the full value of digital transformation across the built environment – we need to reframe and manage it accordingly.

Mark Enzer

We have the technology to make this happen. We can bring digital and physical assets together to create smart infrastructure. Data, information, algorithms and digital twins are assets which we can collect, curate and connect to create new digital assets of value for owners, operators, end users and nations.

Transformation is within reach. The Information Management Framework currently in development, led by CDBB, provides the key to catalysing the information economy, enabling federated digital twins and ultimately the national digital twin.

Let’s shift our understanding of value from outputs and initial cost to people-focused outcomes and whole-life costs; the Construction Leadership Council, the Infrastructure Client Group and the Construction Innovation Hub are already working to align procurement processes with this definition of value.

Let’s act now to adopt systems-based solutions to mitigate the ruinous consequences of not securing resilient and resource-efficient infrastructure.

Jennifer Schooling is director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, and Mark Enzer is head of the National Digital Twin Programme at the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB). They are lead authors of Flourishing Systems, which is available at www.cdbb.cam.ac.uk

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