skip to content

Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

"Digital Built Britain will support the development of world-leading UK capability, enhancing the performance of our built environment and the cities and communities it serves. The new Centre for Digital Built Britain at the University of Cambridge will be collaborative, interdisciplinary and driven by research, technical innovation and industry engagement.” Jennifer Schooling, Chair, CDBB Strategic Research Advisory Board

The UK has the potential to lead one of the defining developments of the 21st century. A digital built Britain will enable the country to capture not only all the inherent value in our built assets, but also the data to create a digital and smart city economy to transform the lives of all.

This research programme of CDBB aims to build effective relationships with the research community to harness value, enabling results of innovative academic research to inform the development of a digital built Britain and become part of professional practice. A panel of experts guides the activities.

The research programme manages the identification and delivery of the research programme to optimise value. It actively feeds in to the wider development of a digital built Britain and is gathering research requirements. The programme is developing a network model that will bring together academic researchers, industry and stakeholder organisations to drive the creation of a digitally-enabled landscape.

Year One Update:

by Dr Jennifer Schooling Chair, CDBB Strategic Research Advisory Board Director, Centre for Smart Infrastructure & Construction 

It has been a year since the Centre for Digital Built Britain was first launched. In that time, we have made substantial progress: we have started to define the research agenda, commissioned a diverse portfolio of research projects and embarked on the vital task of building an engaged and energised research community, drawing together the shared expertise of academics from across disciplines and UK institutions.

A multidisciplinary approach

It is the breadth of the task and the research questions we need to ask that makes developing the CDBB research agenda such an exciting and challenging proposition.

If we are to understand fully how the buildings and infrastructure of the future are going to deliver better services to our citizens, we need to take a truly multidisciplinary approach. We need engineers and architects to work with economists, linguists, social scientists, neuroscientists, psychologists, mathematicians and computer scientists – among others – to understand both the impact of the built environment on how we live our lives and how to design, build, operate and integrate assets that can deliver better outcomes for us all.

We need engineers and architects to work with economists, linguists, social scientists, neuroscientists, psychologists, mathematicians and computer scientists – among others – to understand both the impact of the built environment on how we live our lives and how to design, build, operate and integrate assets that can deliver better outcomes for us all.

Progress to date

We started in January 2018 by commissioning 17 Cambridge mini research projects  from across the University, including the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, Land Economy, the Faculties of Modern and Medieval Languages and Architecture and the Cambridge Clinical Movement Centre at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

research funding year 1

We have also made significant progress in defining the research agenda, which will enable us to develop the theories, practice and skills we need to make digital built Britain a reality. Our preliminary work was tested and refined in a series of workshops with colleagues from both industry and academia in April. From this activity emerged six research networks led by researchers from seven different UK universities involving an average of 28 UK institutions, and drawing on the contributions of over 450 academics.

A second call across UK academia has resulted in 10 Early Career Researcher projects and 7 General Research Projects, led from 9 different universities. Again, the projects draw from a wide range of academic disciplines addressing topics ranging from governance of digital technology in the city context through to aerial swarm robotics for bridge inspection and exploring the potential for blockchain in the construction supply chain.

Building the research community of the future

Ten of these most recent projects are led by early-career researchers. Creating a digital built Britain is not going to happen overnight. The research will need a cohort of dynamic and engaged academics who are now in the early stages of their careers to take it forward. Our research programme has been designed specifically to support these early-career researchers, encourage interaction between them so they can get a broader understanding of the challenges involved in building a digital built Britain and give them the opportunity to explore their leadership potential.

Next steps

We are in the process of collating the complete range of inputs and activities from our first year with a view to publishing, in the first quarter of 2019, a draft research agenda to support the journey to a digital built Britain. We have also carried out an initial mapping exercise for the research programme for the Construction Innovation Hub and look forward to developing that further in 2019. 

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the input of the Expert Group and of all the other reviewers and commentators, which has helped steer us in the early days of developing the research agenda and has continued to support us by reviewing proposals and outputs from our wide-ranging activities.

Funding Calls

When there are opportunities for research funding they will be posted on the Funding Calls web page, which also contains details of previous calls released by CDBB. We would encourage you to register for the CDBB newsletter to be kept informed about new funding opportunities as well as events and research news.