Emma Hooper has become head of R&D at BuildData’s new research institute.
Her appointment was announced two days after BuildData formally merged its Createmaster business with Bond Bryan Digital – where Hooper was associate director.
As head of R&D at the institute, Hooper is responsible for research and development across the BuildData Group’s brands: construction management software supplier Zutec and Createmaster Information Management (the merger of the award-winning consultancy Bond Bryan Digital and digital handover specialist Createmaster).
The research institute has been set up to “better understand and take a lead on the digital transformation of the built environment”, according to BuildData. Furthermore, it will focus on the importance of information as data, “its role today and tomorrow as a valuable asset, and devise strategies and concepts to build out an information theory that will drive better building outcomes”.
Hooper said: “Our belief is that the industry requires a centre of excellence that looks at the bigger picture of information management and a common data framework, acting as think tank to help educate and shape data strategies.
“Our findings will feed into the wider work of BuildData Group to help provide the communications, services and products that will benefit one of the least digitised industry in the world – construction.
“However, crucially it will feed into the industry itself and how we can take an integrated approach to ensure better connected and structured data, which has a consistent digital language as the industry moves towards a golden thread of information.”
Hooper’s first output is a paper, Rethinking Information Management and Modelling, which pulls together her current thinking and acts as a call to action. She states that information should come first and that it should be seen as “an important asset in its own right, on a par with the physical facility”.
The paper covers a lot of ground and she makes a number of observations and pleas: “The hybrid bitty approach to structured information, which we currently have, isn’t working. It’s causing more confusion and chaos and far more complexity and entropy.”
Naturally, Hooper highlights the role of technology suppliers: “We need technology companies to create the technology to support this data-driven approach and for once we can have the needs of information established first. Mainstream technology is not meeting the needs of the industry, but instead dictating how we should work. Could we be heading for a revolution as there are now plenty of smaller companies providing technology that has the potential to disrupt?"
Referring to the industry’s ever-expanding lexicon of acronyms, she says: “Can I make a plea that we don’t call this anything or give it an acronym – it doesn’t need a special name!”
Collaborate or die
Hooper calls for collaboration, starting with procurement: “The Building Safety Act has not only highlighted the significance of information management, but is also beginning to shed light on another crucial area that requires urgent attention, that is procurement, in particular collaborative procurement. If we don’t address this area, not only will we fail to realise the complete advantages of information management, but it also raises questions about how long the industry can sustain itself.”
She concludes: “Rather than people thinking it will never happen, I want people to think of the one thing they can do to help, because we all have a responsibility towards achieving this.
“As I wrote this report, I couldn’t help but think about the words used by Latham and Egan – words like ‘adversarial’, ‘incapable’, ‘ineffective’, and ‘fragmented’. If we could set aside our differences and work together to address some aspects of information management (and procurement), we could begin to tackle these issues.
“I genuinely believe it’s possible, especially with the Building Safety Act driving us forward. The construction industry often gets a lot of negative attention, but imagine the positive impact if we set our differences aside and we all came together with a shared objective. The one thing we all share is information, and the only thing holding us back… is ourselves!”
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