- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 19 Dec 2020
How to make the digital revolution a success
The discussion was framed by ICE President Tim Broyd’s Presidential Address, Engineering a Digital Future, the lessons learned from the national smart meter rollout and Smart Energy GB’s REAL Ratio white paper, and the way that cities like Bristol deliver their digital transformation agenda.
 A smarter overall agenda
Technology can make cities more resilient, efficient, affordable and liveable. Stakeholders involved with shaping and driving the smart city revolution have a responsibility to ensure that digital technology transforms the way the UK designs and delivers infrastructure while at the same time improving people’s lives.
Smart infrastructure should be designed in way that is relevant to the lives of the citizen. Policymakers and industry need to then engage them in understanding how it transforms the often mundane challenges of everyday life.
The approach to the smart meter rollout has been built around creating empathy with the current consumer experience and explaining how that can change, delivering long-term behaviour change. Its campaign that’s inclusive and allows us to speak to everyone while working through advocates and trusted voices.
 Engagement and trust is key
Adding value to everyday life is the goal and a smart city should seek to be engaging, communicable and designed for its citizens. It’s what we call ‘liveability’ – arguably one of the benefits of smart technology that speaks most to people.
The next step now is for industry and policymakers to agree which policies are achievable.
By educating people about the ultimate aim of technology like smart meters we are more likely to secure consumer acceptance, trust and confidence. This will require engagement at grassroots level to find out what issues people want to address through technology. In particular, technology has to be usable for the older generation.
There is also an argument to be made for more automated products that don’t require people to proactively engage. Ease and effortlessness when rolling out any new technology helps improve attitudes towards it.
However, if smart technology saves people money then why should they need to be encouraged or driven towards accepting it in their home? Why are individuals being asked to be more altruistic than companies? Trust is a key issue here.
 Data and integration
The current narrative around a lot of technology is negative. It is frequently associated with security breaches, job losses and confusing complexity. There is a lack of public understanding and access to real data. Yet personal data is at the heart of changing technology. Data is beginning to excel physical infrastructure in terms of value, yet the value of that data is still unrealised.
The UK rail network and the train time app was cited as a good example of an ‘open data’ strategy. However, there is as yet no standard way of structuring the data. Lessons need to be drawn from existing technology and a systems approach adopted.
ICE’s forthcoming State of the Nation: Digital Transformation report will explore how we use both data and technology in the design, construction, use, maintenance and decommissioning of our infrastructure.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Articles by ICE on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- A vision for digital highways.
- Constructing Excellence annual conference 2017.
- Designing smart cities.
- Digital Built Britain.
- Digital information.
- Digital technology.
- Digital transformation - engineers need to keep pace.
- Digital transformation - overcoming barriers.
- Engineering Smart Cities.
- Future skills for civil engineers.
- Global smart cities market.
- How to gain a competitive edge with digital technologies.
- Measuring the success of smart cities.
- Open data.
- Project 13 and World Economic Forum partnership.
- Smart technology.
- State of the nation: Digital transformation.
- The convergence of technology and infrastructure sectors.
- This is what makes your city better.
- UK BIM Alliance and CIOB join forces.
- UK Digital Strategy.
Featured articles and news
A national valuation to fund old-age pensions.
The world’s largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing.
Long after the end of the defects liability period.
Occupant satisfaction and wellbeing in buildings.
From the simple to the complex.
And the UK Government guidelines.
Commitment agreed to by major built environment bodies.
Electrical skills, low carbon, high-tech and the building services revolution.
Ultra-deep drilling with millimeter-wave beam technology.
Looking at the built environment from space.
BSI standards 8671, 8672 and 8673.
Bringing life to burial grounds.
From failed modernism to twenty-minute neighbourhoods.
The gates process and change control.
Why people behave as they do. APM book.