2021: A year of adoption for Civil Infrastructure

If 2021 has been the year of transition towards smart tech for civil infrastructure, we predict that 2022 is going to be the year that organisations move more towards automation and embracing the metaverse. The past 18 months have been a period of change for the industry, induced by the pandemic back in March 2020 where alternative technologies were utilised to sustain the industry as we minimised in-person contact. Since then, the momentum towards technology adoption has built pace.

​​At Sensat, our mission is to automate the way we plan, build and manage civil infrastructure enabling fundamental infrastructure access to billions more people worldwide and ending many of the devastating environmental practices that exist today. Our visualisation platform puts the data of the physical world at your fingertips, improving the decisions we make and reducing the damage caused to the environment. This year we've brought together more data, people, processes and systems than ever before to unlock the power of information and improve project clarity, control, certainty and sustainability. And we believe that 2021 only marks the beginning!

The journey towards technology adoption.

Prior to 2020, looking across to other neighbouring industries such as manufacturing, finance and transport, construction has been slow to embrace technological change, particularly with asset and infrastructure digitisation and automation. However, towards the end of 2020 and throughout 2021, onset by the pandemic and the requirement to find new ways of working, there has been a clear shift in mindset amongst the industry. With this newfound focus towards smart technology, we are witnessing a new wave of civil infrastructure, with digitisation and ultimately automation playing a game-changing role.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the pandemic had increased technological adoption across the infrastructure industry as organisations shifted to remote ways of working. Since this transition towards technology as a pillar to support some traditionally manual processes, businesses have experienced resulting efficiencies, savings and improved outcomes. These realised benefits that are continuing to help to shift the industry into new ways of working, making technologies that were previously not considered a more permanent fixture within construction businesses, such as collaboration and visualisation tools, mode a core part of their digital transformation.

At Sensat, we are seeing indications that the industry is more ready to embrace these new technologies more than it ever has before. Earlier this year in our own research, Sensat found that 89% of respondents stated that they see a visualisation platform featuring in their future purchasing or renewals—suggesting early signs that visualisation software is considered necessary for future infrastructure projects.

Welcoming the next tech wave in 2021 and beyond!

Ultimately Sensat’s goal is to help automate the construction industry, to help individuals and their businesses make better, more sustainable data-driven decisions across the asset lifecycle. Our roadmap to achieving this borrows the concept from autonomous vehicles, ranging from level 0 (manual) to level 5 (full automation). A majority of the civil infrastructure industry sits at level zero, processes have hardly changed over the past century, are extremely manual and require putting boots on the ground—somewhat expected from an intrinsically physical industry.

Today Sensat is helping to boost automation amongst the industry and help our clients reach what we have defined as Level 1 and Level 2 of automation:

Level 1: Automation aggregates large data sets from other repositories and tools. It provides measurement tools and simple collaboration tools that allow the project manager to increase the efficiency of certain aspects of the work but still requires them to actively decide on tasks and use the tools to perform them.

Level 2: At this level the common visualisation environment® (CVE) is the centre of integration of data and provides visual context of the project, allowing the project manager or contractor to make the most of the project-related decisions by having data available. In platform functionalities become more advanced, such as visual recognition of objects through camera integration and real-time collaboration, making the project manager/contractor more efficient, however they are still required to interpret the data they see and collaborate with other team members to accomplish work.

Over the past two decades, the amount of information created and captured from the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) has boomed, and as an industry, we are still discovering how to realise the full potential of this near-constant stream of data. It is estimated that today, 95% of all data captured in the construction and engineering industry goes unused and it is not unreasonable to say that we are missing a huge opportunity to gather valuable insights from this data. But inherently it is about surfacing the right information when we need it and making the most of it to make the right decisions.

At Sensat, we have built a platform that is helping to automate every stage of an asset or project lifecycle, where teams can bring together siloed data into one place, changing the way the industry plans, bids, builds and manages civil infrastructure. Using Sensat across the project lifecycle our users are experiencing shifts in their model of civil infrastructure where:

  • Risk responsibility and contingencies begin to move away from the supply chain
  • Profit margins increase with fewer errors, incidents and rework
  • More capital returned means companies can re-invest into their businesses
  • Reduction in material waste, physical access, environmental degradation, invasive practices and logistics emissions cuts environmental impacts

There is a new wave of civil infrastructure upon us and those who choose not to adopt them will ultimately fall behind as others benefit from the productivity and efficiency gains.

Digital twin of construction site

Using technology to improve the sustainability of civil infrastructure projects

According to UN estimates, the built environment is responsible for almost 40% of carbon emissions each year and the value chains of cities (including the transportation of materials and construction processes) are attributable to 68% of all global annual greenhouse gas emissions. This is an incredible amount of waste and inefficiency. As we continue to support the growing population we will need to find strategies harnessing technology and innovation as the foundation to a greener world.

As we strive towards meeting the climate change targets, the role of technology is set to become an increasingly important tool in creating a more sustainable construction lifecycle. At Sensat, we are committed to building technology that will help harness information, so that organisations can surface the right data and information to make more informed and sustainable decisions as part of a wider sustainable ecosystem. We believe that by using technology we can start to close the productivity gap within the industry and also positively address the negative impact of the built environment. Additionally, with our data capture and visualisation, we are helping to build towards a metaverse for positive change—creating digital twins to support sustainable development.

We understand that our solution is one piece of a larger ecosystem, however, through the adoption of better practices alongside technology, we can put ourselves in the best position to tackle climate change effectively.

We have already started to help build the metaverse, by creating digital replicas of 20 cities and sites, such as HS2, Heathrow and the M25, for the civil infrastructure industry… and we are only just getting started as to what we could achieve. This year we have saved 84,893.65kg CO2e using our advanced methods of data capture compared to alternative aerial data capture methods, and we are already seeing further carbon savings through minimised reworks by spotting problems early in the digital twin metaverse and reduced trips to site.

With 2021 being the tech wave of civil infrastructure, we are pleased to have introduced some exciting new features to Sensat this year such as the project timeline feature and camera feed integrations which are providing Sensat with more live information for progress monitoring and decision-making, and contextual commenting for easier collaboration and coordination. And as we continue to ride this wave of technology, get ready for some exciting new features coming to Sensat helping to improve coordination and collaboration. One thing we can be certain of in 2022 is to thrive, firms will need to make further investments in technology and digitalisation and consolidate systems.

We believe that we’re the only company that can help Civil Infrastructure do this and we're excited to work towards a more sustainable future using automation technology.

As a huge thank you for your continued support this year, for every click on our 2021 End of Year round-up page we will be planting a tree in the spirit of the season and sustainability. Click here to donate a tree!

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