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Digital Construction Summit 2020: what was hot?

The Digital Construction Summit 2020 took place as a virtual event between 29th September and 1st October. In case you missed it, this article will summarise the key insights.

The Digital Construction Summit 2020 is one of the key virtual events in the UK for digital decision-makers in the built environment. The event had originally been scheduled as a real-world event on the 3rd of June in London. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers postponed it to comply with government regulations. It was finally brought to life as a virtual event during the first week of October.

An opportunity for ‘digital champions’

It included presentations from industry-leading digital professionals, panel discussions, Q&As and audience interaction. The summit was a clear opportunity for ‘digital champions’ in the construction industry to share best practice and inspire others. The aim was to bring together government, clients, contractors, architects, consultants and suppliers to assess the industry’s digital progress over the last year, and examine the policies, trends and innovations that will shape the industry over the coming ones.

At least 1,700 professionals from across the built environment with responsibility for driving BIM and digital innovation attended. Some of the major event sponsors included the Chartered Institute Of Buildings (CIOB), Construction Manager Magazine and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB). It came as no surprise to see the CDBB sponsoring the event, of course, as they are now one of the main bodies in the UK driving BIM.

The opening session at the Digital Construction Summit 2020

The opening session was titled ‘Putting digital at the heart of the built environment’s recovery’ – a well-suited name for the present situation. Mark Enzer, digital director at the Centre for Digital Built Britain led the session. This was warmly welcomed by the audience, as Mark is also the leader of the National Digital Twin Programme and Chief Technology Officer at Mott Macdonald – an inspiration for many in the BIM arena. The opening session focused on the following topics:

  • Accelerating digital adoption as construction emerges from the COVID-19 crisis

  • Modernising the sector through digital and manufacturing technologies

  • Promoting better information management and secure, resilient data-sharing

  • The digital twin: emerging examples in the UK built environment

  • The role of the national digital twin and the ‘Gemini Principles’

As the entire construction industry is currently suffering the impact of COVID-19, there was no doubt that the event had to begin tackling this issue (and also because the event itself was postponed because of coronavirus).

From the boardroom to site

Another key session was on ‘communicating digital solutions to site teams effectively.’ In fact, this represents one of the major challenges in the construction industry. Whilst engineers and architects develop sophisticated digital models, site teams struggle to materialise their benefits. Although there are many reasons for this, probably the most prominent one has to do with communication. The session was led by Andrew Gamblen, digital manager at Willmott Dixon and UK BIM Alliance Ambassador. He discussed a number of issues, from keeping all project stakeholders connected, to breaking down silos across the built environment professions.

The panel of speakers expanded on possible solutions, such as mobile apps to keep up to date with project information. They also explored the use of digital tools to establish consistent workflows and engage with sub-contractors and the supply chain. The session concluded with a discussion on the power of visualisation tools. These tools have made a big difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital transformation has been critical during the crisis, with many innovative solutions being implemented. The digital interactives used to hold virtual public consultation events are a good example of this.

The event finished with a session titled ‘Creating a “golden thread” of digital documentation to improve project efficiency, safety and client relationship’. In this closing discussion, the panel examined how digital documentation could drive efficiencies on major projects. They also debated how hard-hat cameras and AI can provide a ‘single source of truth’ on any site.

Did you attend the event? Let us know your key takeaway in the comments below!

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