UKCRIC workshop explores the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation in the built environment

UKCRIC workshop explores the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation in the built environment
07 May 2021

On Thursday 29 April, the University of Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) hosted an online workshop for UKCRIC academics and researchers to explore the challenges and research opportunities around digitalisation in the built environment.

Dr Jennifer Schooling, Director of CSIC welcomed delegates and Professor Mark Girolami, Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering and academic lead for CSIC and Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), delivered a reflective introduction of the digital journey so far, citing key moments in the development of machines to predict future events.

The workshop kicked off with presentations from each of the UKCRIC partner institutions who provided an overview of the digital research activities happening across their universities. The presentations featured:

  • Prof William Powrie, University of Southampton: digital in rail infrastructure: sensors on the track and in the track bed, digital approaches to low-carbon energy transition;
  • Dr Karen Blay and Dr Peter Demian, Loughborough University: information resilience, building occupancy modelling, design 4 energy, deep learning and computer vision for sewer pipe inspection/monitoring, block chain;
  • Dr Mojgan Mosleh, University of Manchester: BIM Safety Risk Library, non-destructive techniques for bridge inspection;
  • Prof Philip James, Newcastle University: urban sensor networks, urban green design and modelling, digitalization of vehicles, climate resilience programme;
  • Tom Russell, ITRC, University of Oxford: structural sensing, household energy, demand, telecommunications, simulation for infrastructure performance, energy and power systems, climate risks to infrastructure;
  • Marion Samler, STFC, DAFNI: data hub, model repository, high-performance computer platform, digital twin urban analytics, green finance;
  • Prof Theo Tryfonas, University of Bristol: intelligent hot-desking, smart infrastructure monitoring, electric bike use;
  • Prof Jennifer Whyte, Imperial College London: Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation, data-driven design under uncertainty, design and delivery of digitally integrated solutions, linked-data based constraint modelling, design change in digital twins;
  • Dr Jennifer Schooling, University of Cambridge: Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery, CDBB (construction innovation, national digital twin programme), CSIC (smart infrastructure);
  • Prof Liz Varga, University College London: global health and human wellbeing, sustainable cities, transformational technology;
  • Prof Nigel Cassidy and Dr Asaad Faramarzi, University of Birmingham: digital twin and modelling of underground assets and railways;
  • Dr Georges Kesserwani, University of Sheffield: modelling human response dynamics during flood-induced evacuation;
  • Prof Chris Dent, University of Edinburgh: data science, AI, IoT, lean construction infrastructure, electricity security and supply, geoscience;
  • Dr Benny Suryanto, Heriot-Watt University: monitoring and virtual testing of concrete materials, damage sensing and simulation of concrete structures, forensic assessment of structures, energy geostructures and water resilience;
  • Dr Vasilis Sarhosis, University of Leeds: masonry infrastructure, robotics, sensing, materials and structures, cities and infrastructure, data analytics.

Presentations throughout the morning were interspersed with two breakout sessions, involving small groups of delegates discussing a particular research theme with focus on the questions of ‘what are the challenges/opportunities within this research area?’ and ‘what are the research questions which would help to address these challenges?’

Research themes spanned from digital fundamentals, such as sensors & IoT, data architecture and digital twins, through to innovative application areas such as structural health monitoring, data centric engineering, infrastructure and building management, sustainable development and smart cities.

Delegates from across all 15 UKCRIC institutions participated in the online event. The workshop provided the opportunity to engage with colleagues across the UKCRIC community and explore areas of collective interest and capability within the digital space. It is hoped that the opportunities identified and discussed will spark ideas for future innovation and collaboration.

Through the University of Cambridge, CSIC is an active member of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) and is hosted in the UKCRIC-funded National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing (NRFIS).