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BSRIA Briefing 2015 - presentations and event write upNovember 2015

Julia Evans CEO

On Friday 13th November BSRIA welcomed 380 industry professionals at the Brewery in London for its annual Briefing. This flagship event was opened by BSRIA Chief Executive Julia Evans, who welcomed leading industry figures. She stressed that we were all to expect an “interesting and exciting” morning. The audience would be energised and educated by the stimulating speakers on the agenda and one would “go away with more questions than one came in with”!

Julia reminded everyone that the event was an opportunity to network with BSRIA, the wider industry and colleagues and to, not only “think outside the box” but also “think to the future”. With that, Julia welcomed our speakers to discuss the theme of this year’s Briefing ‘smart data; silver lining or black cloud?’. Click links below to jump to section on individual speakers:

Rob Manning, ECS Ltd

The event was chaired by Rob Manning, Government Level 3 BIM Team, Engineering Construction Strategies Ltd, who asked the question: “Is smart data right or wrong?” He then went on to introduce the morning’s speakers.

Dr Alison Vincent, Chief Technology Officer, CISCO, was welcomed to the stage to discuss digital disruption and the key trends within. Dr Vincent explained that she represents all of CISCO to government. She insisted that the audience should not “hit the panic button” but went on to say that four of today’s top 10 incumbents (in terms of market share) in each industry will be displaced by digital disruption in the next five years. Every industry will be pulled into the digitisation vortex.

She asked why we should worry about digitisation? For a start, it is making money and making good business sense: “Eating the lunch of the large corporates.”

A new industrial revolution is in process. Digital manufacturing is driving business outcomes with the following statistics: 48 per cent reduced downtime; 49 per cent reduction in defects; 23 per cent new product introduction; 16 per cent OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) improvement; 35 per cent improved inventory; and 18 per cent reduction in energy use. In essence, the real economic value is immense with “big value” opportunity.

Dr Alison Vincent, Chief Technology Officer, CISCO

This is driving business outcomes and speeding up new products on demand as the customer wants – to make life smarter. This will cover every country, city and company. The Internet of Everything (IoE) “multiplying” has an impact on the “Internet to Date”. By 2020, 50 billion “smart objects” will represent new opportunities and will, as such, be connected.

People have to respond and change their respective business. She quoted JFK: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

The IoE has gone past the number of people in the world. It is the networked connection of people, process, data and things. But Dr Vincent asked: “How do you make it work better? What value is there for a company?”

According to the Cisco Global Index 2014 – 2019, a city of 1 million will generate 180 million gigabytes of data per day by 2019. She quoted Socrates: “Focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on embracing the new.”

Dr Vincent said that customer interactions are through: hyper-connectivity, digitisation and convergence. For smarter buildings, lighting, HVAC, energy/metering, physical security, inventory, sensors and appliances are key. The experiences that come out of this will be: new way of working smart spaces; innovation retail with personalisation – with the latest offer on your phone; smart buildings – energy efficient with optimal space usage; and healthcare – faster healing. Research has shown that if a patient has controlled lighting, recovery can be quicker.

The overwhelming theme of Dr Vincent’s presentation was: disrupt or be disrupted – regarding the pace of change. She asked the audience to embrace this in its thinking for the “new world”.

Finally, Dr Vincent said that digital disruption was here to stay: “It’s a reality.” She urged the audience to leave with a challenge and asked: “What will your digital legacy be? What would you change when you go back to your office? Welcome to the future! Drive a different organisation going forward!”

Neil Thompson, Principal BIM Integrator, Balfour Beatty & Chair of BIM 2050 Group, gave an inspiring presentation on digital construction, asking: “So what’s smart about this data?” He explained that there was currently a culture of “cultural friction” and that we needed to change our business models and upskill people and staff.

The rates in which we create technology and “people to people” interactions were scrutinized. Any labour intensive situation is not good. But “better quality employment” had been experienced since 1992 with employment up 23 per cent. Chris Anderson’s Long Tail (2004) concept was highlighted – which incorporated a population growth.

Neil Thompson, Principal BIM Integrator, Balfour Beatty & Chair of BIM 2050 Group

Neil examined how we make decisions? And that the millennial generation must be represented in the modern workplace. Research has been carried out by UCL examining four levels of the average salary for a certain client looking at levels of frequency and production. The average remuneration per employee between 2004 and 2013 was tracked – with a higher spike around 2008 and 2009 for level 2. This drew attention to where the talented staff were going to go? Parallels were drawn for the construction industry itself.

Neil discussed the circular economy – an industrial system that is restorative by design (A New Dynamic: Effective Business in a Circular Economy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2013) with a relationship between consumer and user – where leakage of energy recovery should be minimised. A particular example was that of incineration and landfill where – service, refurbish, parts harvesting and recycling were beside – distribution, manufacturing, parts supply and extracting raw materials.

He asked: “What does connected infrastructure (including buildings) mean to us?” Especially in a connected world where one wants to sell a service. Business models and career paths in construction were outlined: be integrative, start with people! The cross domain of skills and attitudes and the depth of learning was highlighted with the “t shape” learning model – with breadth and depth. Neil explained that people jump into different careers at different stages of their lives – different silos – but retain their talent. This is a “design paradigm shift”. BIM 2050 captured this data by asking staff to map their careers and the results revealed that it wasn’t a linear progression – staff were “jumping all over the place”.

To support his case, Neil explained MOOCS (massive open online courses) which has introduced 328 different courses from 62 universities in 17 countries. The platforms 2.9 million registered users come from more than 220 countries; students have an hour a month to learn something else. This is a good example of collaborative working – closing the gaps between industry and academia and works as a tendering platform. Software and browser based applications can assist. Sometimes individuals get frustrated with the industry they are in – which can be slow to change – and they have an archaic image of themselves. The find themselves “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.

Neil’s final salvo was to “look after your people and look out for digital platforms”.

Chris Pountney, Principal Engineer, AECOM

Chris Pountney, Principal Engineer, AECOM, took to the stage to talk about analysing and understanding – putting big data to work. He kicked off by saying that we must use the data that will come our way – both what it is and what it says. This is crucial for communicating to stakeholders. According to IBM Data Analytics 2013, 90 per cent of worldwide data was created between 2011 and 2013. Chris asked: “What are we going to do with all this data?”

Regarding perception – understanding is essential and one should simplify for more accurate reading. In reality – how do we convey the data? Cleveland & McGill (1984) cite position (common scale and non-aligned scale); length; direction; angle; area; volume; curvature; and shading within this.

Insight was outlined – with four key objectives – to provide an overview; adjust perspective; detect pattern; match mental modal. The context to the reader is what counts; readers can usually detect a pattern. This represents their perspective on the world.

Looking at appeal – visual appeal is determined within 0.5 seconds. Therefore, you can optimise this by selecting: low (colour or brightness) for medium complexity and medium or high colourfulness for more impact. This works best when it is put into context.

Chris said that London is the information capital of the world – it is an important place in history. In the past, there was a drive to open “source data” and, by plotting a city wide data store, an outbreak of cholera was detected in Soho – with those dying who lived closest to the water pumps. The emphasis here is that data has always been used in visualising data to provide necessary insight. This principle will help form the London Energy Plan 2050 – incorporating electrification, infrastructure and energy.

When London is mapped for residents per dwelling – 3D data is used on a 2D page – to create a heat map. The closer to central London – the less residents per dwelling and vice versa – especially in north London.

Looking specifically at buildings: big data potential considers – energy consumption; system peaks; automated controls; occupant comfort; maintenance requests; secure access; and file storage. An example: Domestic DSR (demand side response) which looked at – granular energy data and dynamic pricing which would incorporate – reduced supplier costs; deferred network investment; and cheaper energy bills. Through this, one can change their behaviour on how one pays for their energy – even in half hour chunks – which will reduce costs. Different tariffs will be based on the location of the customer. It is a data rich and multi-stakeholder problem. The move to smart data in 2020 will assist.

With the example of non-domestic DSR – this presents significantly more complex systems – including the ability to predict demand reductions; respond to automated network signals; deliver agreed demand reduction; monitor building performance; and communicate benefits to engage occupants. Within this there are peak energy demands and to solve this problem we need to understand the data we’re collecting and communicate it to stakeholders invested in the built environment.

Chris left the audience with a final quote from Harvard University Professor Garry King: “Big data is not about the data.”

Professor William Webster, Director Centre for Research into Information Surveillance & Privacy (CRISP), University of Stirling

Professor William Webster, Director Centre for Research into Information Surveillance & Privacy (CRISP), University of Stirling, spoke about surveillance and the built environment. He started off with a surveillance studies perspective, taking into account: how to get the most out of Big (Smart) Data; the implications of Big Data for the built environment; and, the changing nature of society, human relations and working practices emerging alongside the Big Data revolution.

Professor Webster explained that surveillance is ubiquitous; it is everywhere, a defining feature of modern society – “the surveillance society”. It is embedded in the information flows generated by new information and communication technologies. It is a normal, unsurprising, part of everyday life and incorporates the processing of vast quantities of personal data. Some surveillance practices/technologies are explicit, such as CCTV or Body Worn Video, others less so, such as tracking and profiling. Surveillance is, therefore, also subtle, discrete and hidden from sight; it taps into “human instinct”. He reminded the audience that one “leaves digital footprints everywhere we go” – from the use of credit cards and satnavs, mobile phones, passport information and social media. If we live in a modern society, one shouldn’t be shocked!

Regarding the surveillance perspective, Professor Webster explained that surveillance is often closely aligned to security. The surveillance society integrates many industrial sectors – sociologists call this the “industrial surveillance complex”. Surveillance impacts on our “life chances” and shapes our lives. Surveillance should not be assumed to be “good” or “bad”. The surveillance perspective is not anti-surveillance. It seeks to understand new power relationships, new working practices, evolving social norms, and human relations; the built environment is not immune from the surveillance revolution. It shapes our behaviour and how we understand it; it isn’t necessarily “good or bad”. A “bad” example could be when shopping habits are scruitinized – along with any traffic fines – including driving in bus lanes.

Concerning Big Data – (re)use of existing large data sets, often in the public domain to shape services and aid decision making can assist. This can include the integration of official data, privately owned data and data defining from social media and the internet; this relies on sophisticated algorithms and data matching. Professor Webster said that the Internet of Things involves more and more devices that are attached to the internet – where the internet interacts directly with the physical environment. Again social media is tracked; internet records are kept for a year by internet search providers. This is where the digital and physical world collides.

He raised the matter of emerging issues and asked: Where does all this information go and how is it used? Who decides what happens to our personal information? Can we influence what happens to our personal information? Are there safeguards to make sure it is not misused? How reliable and robust are Big Data processes? Will our data be held securely? Are such ‘privacy’ concerns such as these taken into account when commercial opportunities around Big Data are exploited? How does this impact on those responsible for building design, construction and management take account of these issues? Ultimately, how do they take account of security issues?

So what of the built environment – commercial and domestic – which is evolving to accommodate ‘surveillance’? Buildings to incorporate IT infrastructure and a plethora of ‘access’ points (broadband, fibre optic, wifi). Also, new sensory devises – watching, listening, and even smelling! The aim is to provide new ‘smart’ products – intelligent lighting, smart energy meters, remote security applications which is relevant to domestic property, critical infrastructure and civic engineering. And, last but not least, the emergence of Smart Cities. If this becomes a certainty, the world will need to get used to it!

Professor Webster went on to say that a new dependency on digital technologies in the built environment requires those responsible for planning and building design to have access to new skill sets – those associated with physical building and engineering, IT requirements and informational security requirements. The future of building design and engineering will need to blend these together and implies a high level of information sharing and a requirement to do so securely – to identify security threats to information.

He wrapped up by saying that the emergent surveillance society poses a number of challenges: “How should the build environment evolve to accommodate security and informational requirements? This should include cyber security and records management. To what extent should privacy concerns be considered? How is this knowledge acquired by those responsible for building design, construction and management? Security and privacy should not be after thoughts, they should be designed in from the start.”

Gary Goodenough, Cloud & Hosting Services, Vodafone

Gary Goodenough, Cloud & Hosting Services, Vodafone, stepped onto the stage to talk about the cloud and hosting – namely market trends and customer challenges within working in the cloud and how the whole world is changing. Customers now face many choices and platforms for wide area networks and cloud and hosting services. From his experience, the cloud (cloud ICT services including unified communications) is growing faster than the mobile – at a rate of 12 per cent per annum – worth £32 billion – compared to that of mobile phones – a 2 per cent. A data explosion is driving this: by 2020 there will be 10 times the quantity of today, which is largely generated by corporate companies.

Gary asked what is driving this data explosion? Under the umbrella of “cloud mobility social big data” over 1.4 billion business mobile phone devices are projected by 2016, growing from 889 million in 2012. There has been a 3,500 per cent increase in Dropbox cloud storage users in the last four years. In a global survey, 74 per cent of businesses reported using social technology for collaboration and communication. And 44 trillion GB of data will be created and used annually by 2020.

He explained that the cloud is driving transformation – 79 per cent of organisations in the private sector now “formally” consider the cloud as part of their I.T. strategy. Three times the cloud adoption growth is expected in terms for the retail sector by 2015.

Gary posed the question: “So all is good, right?” Not quite! Businesses face new challenges. There is a higher demand on productivity – tighter requirement on regulatory compliance; growing data volumes; a higher requirement for application performance. Bigger costs – complex and fragmented systems, a lack of resource and specialist skills and budget constraints. Plus – greater risks – business continuity and threats to security.

Business is facing difficult choices: there are three types of cloud – SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) for web users; PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) for software developers; and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) for internal I.T. Within IaaS, there are three types of clouds that deliver I.T. infrastructure – private cloud (single tenant); public cloud (multiple tenants); and the hybrid cloud (mix use of private and public cloud by single tenant). It was asked: “How do you move workforces around these options?”

Finally, Gary asked “what the future looks like”? Namely, the hybrid cloud – between private and public. For private – this is a highly automated self-service Private Cloud – which removes the complexity from a customer’s legacy I.T. and enables them to deliver new services faster. End-to-end managed service offering (Hybrid). For public – it is partnerships with the leading public cloud providers, supporting Vodafone strategy for SMEs, integrated under its self-service capabilities and network. In principle, the Vodafone secure network becomes the glue between the public cloud, private cloud and the end users.

Julia Evans wrapped up the morning and thanked all the speakers and the chair and introduced the Inspire publication created this summer by work experience student Jason Finch. Created to celebrate BSRIA’s 60th year, the publication features 60 engineers before 1955 and 60 after and exemplifies BSRIA’s “60 60” project. Julia said that there will be a competition running based on Inspire – running until the end of the year:


Tom Smith, Chairman, BSRIA

Following lunch BSRIA Chairman Tom Smith (WSP) introduced tv celebrity Nick Hewer to the stage. Nick treated the guests to his experiences as “right hand man” to Lord Alan Sugar in the BBC’s Apprentice reality tv programme. Nick opened his talk by describing both the “fun” and “horror” of following the candidates around London in a solid 55-60 day shoot. “Any Tom, Dick or Harry could do it.” He explained that he was approached by Sugar to do the PR for the launch of his Amstrad computer – which uniquely came with a monitor; costs were kept down because they were bought in bulk. Rapidly, the share price “doubled over night”. Nick said “it was the start of a great journey”. Subsidiaries soon sprang up all over Europe and Amstrad had a 36 per cent share of the market.

In 2005, the BBC launched the Apprentice, Lord Sugar got the “gig” and appointed Nick as his “eyes and ears” on the candidates, along with lawyer Margaret Mountford. Nick admitted that the candidates were not the brightest in business but there was pressure to deliver high viewing figures and such applicants create the necessary “dramas” with the audience shouting: “I could do better than that!” Around 10M viewers watch The Apprentice (including catch-up figures). Only “ego-maniacs” could exist in the house; but fame drives them on. It is a ghastly task following the candidates around from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm in a “winner takes all” competition.

Nick Hewer

Nick admitted that some of the tasks – in the timeframe – were difficult and that “they weren’t bad kids really”. All the business lessons are there in an entertaining way.

Julia Evans closed the event with thanks to all the sponsors – especially Trend – delegates in attendance and the announcement that the Briefing would be returning next year on Friday 11th November.

A big thank you went to the speakers who gave their time to the event. Also thanks to Nick Hewer for being our understated afternoon speaker with an inside edge and rounding up a fantastic Briefing.

TREND - Headline Sponsor

Headline Sponsor for the BSRIA Briefing 2015