Vicki Reynolds, chief technology officer at i3PT and global vice chair of Women In BIM, takes her turn on My Digital Life. Here she highlights her frustration at the implementation of tech for tech’s sake.
What new built environment digital innovation that you’ve seen recently really excites you?
Advancements in the use of predictive analytics to better understand the environmental impact of what we’re building are exciting, but also long overdue. Being able to accurately predict how the built environment will impact the natural environment now and over time will allow us to make better decisions based on real data.
Organisations can no longer put recycling bins in their offices and plant a tree to satisfy new ESG requirements, and new legislation means that clients will soon need to evidence their sustainability claims.
The market is likely to see an influx of carbon calculators and energy monitoring sensors over the next few years, and we will get better at taking responsibility for the effect that the assets we build and operate have on the health of our planet. Long overdue, if you ask me!
What single thing would help accelerate construction’s digital adoption?
We need to stop separating digital and traditional as if they are two different options to choose from. The only way to accurately understand and track programme, cost, contracts, quality and compliance on a project is digitally.
BIM, good information management, and using basic technology on site and in project offices should no longer be labelled “innovative”. This should instead be considered the minimum standard.
For residential buildings that are six storeys or more, clients will soon be required to hold and manage golden thread information digitally, which means that they will also write digital deliverables more solidly in to their contracts and will procure digital information management tools, which will hopefully produce a trickle-down affect across the industry.
Who do you follow on social media about BIM and digital construction – and why?
Obviously I can’t speak highly enough of our wonderful network at Women in BIM. With more than 800 members worldwide, we regularly share BIM news, stories and ideas from a range of viewpoints.
What was the last app you downloaded and why?
The NHS app to access my Covid passport! I flew to Dublin last week to meet new members of our team and to have some actual face-to-face conversations with colleagues. It was nerve racking, but knowing that I, and everyone else on the flight, had been tested was reassuring.
What’s the tech bane of your life?
It really frustrates me to see technology or digital processes being rolled out without a clear purpose. Tech for the sake of tech is damaging because it’s often costly, ill defined, and when it ultimately fails, it becomes fodder for technophobes and tech sceptics. Bringing vaguely spec’d out technology on to a project just because it’s cool, or because you’ve seen a competitor doing it is just asking for issues to arise.
Every person interfacing with new a technology or digital tools must see a benefit in its use – will it save them time? Will it give them more security or visibility?
If positive impacts can’t be clearly identified and a genuine problem isn’t being solved, then I’d suggest heading back to the drawing board.
Also, all change needs a set of champions to drive its success. These champions must exist at every level of an organisation or project and be ready to communicate benefits and push for greater adoption among their peers.
I’ve seen numerous scenarios in which tech adoption has failed or stalled purely because it was implemented with an unclear specification and it hadn’t gone through an appropriate change process.
Mac or PC/iOS or Android?
PC and Android. I have a OnePlus phone, a Samsung tablet and Lenovo laptop. I moved away from Apple products about six years ago because I got fed up of their lack of interoperability and although the initial switch over was difficult at first, I’ve never looked back!
Do you have any smart home features or other digital gadgets?
Yes, we have smart devices in most rooms to manage heat, lighting and music. Being able to manage all of these elements remotely allows us to be more energy efficient, and also keeps our home more secure.