Opinion

Digital Construction Week: whole-life cycle on the rise

Shot of audience at Digital Construction Week 2024

Richard Saxon CBE reflects on day one of Digital Construction Week, and the increasing emphasis on whole-life cycle of assets.

Digital Construction Week (DCW) is increasingly essential.

This year’s DCW at ExCel seemed busier than ever, supercharged by the Elizabeth Line. Arriving early, I still could not get a seat at the first session I planned to attend. There were about 200 presentations over the two days, spread over 10 stages, and it was impossible to go to all the relevant ones as they overlapped.

About 180 firms exhibited as well, many with promotional sessions on their stands or on the event stages.

As an adviser helping clients to set up information management, I was pleased to see a lot of emphasis on the whole-life cycle of assets, with asset information given as much importance as project information management. The handover process is finally getting the attention it deserves so that buildings and infrastructure deliver the client’s desired outcomes.

Facilities with data flowing from sensors and analytics, so-called smart buildings, are becoming part of the scene too. Digital twins, in whatever form their promoters mean, are mentioned almost everywhere.

Burgeoning AI is the rising tide that is lifting all boats. It is powering up design, construction and operation, and everyone’s back offices. My favourite session was given by Alistair Kell, chief technology officer of BDP, under the title “If only BDP knew what BDP knows: the rise of ChatBDP”. This is my former practice and that plea for effective knowledge management dates back decades. Now it is being answered by employing largely off-the-shelf tools from the Microsoft stable.

A corporate memory can now be said to exist outside of human minds, supporting rapid access to experience and expertise, and offering summaries of relevant content to the matter in hand. BDP developed it for peanuts as well.

The digital ground is moving under everyone’s feet, faster than before.

Richard Saxon CBE is director of services to clients at Deploi: information management for the built environment.

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