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Centre for Digital Built Britain


The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) works closely with a range of leading organisations to drive change to deliver a smart digital built environment. Jennifer Schooling OBE, Director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) and Director of Applied Research for CDBB, reflects on the power of collaboration and the success of the International Conference on Smart Infrastructure and Construction 2019.

CSIC works collaboratively with industry partners and associated organisations to demonstrate how better data and information from a range of sensing systems can be used to improve our understanding of infrastructure, leading to better design, construction and asset management practices, and to improve our understanding of how our infrastructure serves our communities.

At CSIC we see data as the ‘golden thread’ of informed decision-making, providing insights into how our infrastructure is used throughout its life; its condition, and capacity to serve those users; and how we design and construct new and sustainable assets. Data is also critical as a tool to help us address wider challenges facing our society, and hence our built environment – perhaps the most critical of these is climate change.

CSIC works internationally to share knowledge and best practice. We have just held our second International Conference on Smart Infrastructure and Construction, ICSIC 2019, in Cambridge, bringing together world-leading experts from the increasingly dynamic field of smart infrastructure and construction: academics, practitioners and policy makers from infrastructure planning, construction, asset management, smart cities and sensing. There was a great buzz at the conference, which showcased the latest research and innovation in a range of sessions across smart sensors, structures, geotechnics, asset management, policy, digital, data analytics and cities – many of which can now be viewed on the CSIC Youtube channel.

By collaborating with the infrastructure and construction industry and policy makers, CSIC is able to accelerate implementation of research outputs, delivering value by improving margins, reducing costs and extending the productive life of assets. Modern engineering is increasingly multidisciplinary. CSIC works across disciplines and with a range of institutions and centres, including CDBB, to provide solutions to real industry challenges and address the UK’s infrastructure needs.

Our collaborative work will continue to flourish when CSIC moves this summer to the new Civil Engineering building which hosts the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing (NRFIS), part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities (UKCRIC) funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). NRFIS brings together leading edge engineering facilities and sensor development capabilities under one roof to conduct research across civil engineering, infrastructure design, construction, operation and asset management. It offers an interdisciplinary centre to develop sensors and instrumentation for infrastructure monitoring and assessment, and carry out lab-scale testing in structures, geomechanics, and construction engineering.

The digital age brings huge opportunities for effective collaborative action. While our industry is embracing the digital revolution, we now need to transform our operational approaches to enable us to get maximum value from the data we are generating, not just for today but for the generations that follow.