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Centre for Digital Built Britain


CDBB Week 2019 showcases CDBB’s diverse range of work and engagement with our industry, academic and policy networks. As part of Friday’s #CDBBWeek2019 Digital Roundup, the Centre invited a number of researchers from CDBB funded research networks and early career researchers to shine a light on their projects supporting a digital built Britain.

“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.“ Dr Jennifer Schooling OBE, Chair of the CDBB Research Strategy Advisory Group

Recommendations for automated checking of regulations and requirements management in healthcare design

How can we use digital technology to support automating compliance checking for healthcare design regulations? Due to the complexity of healthcare facilities, identifying and dealing with clients' requirements is challenging. This currently involves the documentation, sharing, tracking, and compliance checking with healthcare design requirements across the asset lifecycle. The use of manual systems often causes the process to be costly, labour intensive, error-prone and time-consuming.

Adoption of automation

The project aim was to propose recommendations for the adoption of automation in the regulatory compliance process for the design of healthcare facilities.

We used a design science research method suited to handle real-world problems, and worked closely with industry partners, including Community Health Partnerships (CHP), the software developer Solibri, and Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil. We worked with healthcare practitioners and designers to understand the nature of the issues and barriers affecting the requirement management of healthcare facilities. Healthcare design experts and policymakers contributed to the project, helping ensure the resulting recommendations support future developments. Finally, a workshop was organised on the 1 July 2019 in London to present research findings, gather feedback and insights for future developments.

Introducing categorisation

We started by understanding the characteristics of healthcare requirements from both regulatory and client’s perspectives. We proposed a categorisation of information from written regulations for healthcare projects, in addition to other client requirements. This categorisation helps to understand, structure, categorise, store and retrieve information from sets of written regulations. The requirements from the regulations can then be included in software to enable automated checking of design compliance. Our results identified the requirement for hybrid approaches for design assessment.

Hybrid approaches

Hybrid approaches are needed because existing regulatory requirements include both quantifiable information, which is relatively easy to automate,, but also subjective information, which cannot be easily automated. Finally, we present recommendations to support the automation of regulatory compliance checking. The report presents advice for policy makers in terms of how regulations need to be revised to enable future automation of compliance checking.

Future benefits

We believe a degree of automation in healthcare design will open up the way to improve ever-increasing complex design decisions. Our project recommends integrating automation with human inputs to achieve this – all stakeholders associated with healthcare design should collaborate towards achieving this goal.

However, the construction industry needs to recognise transformation is not only about adopting new technologies, but integrating technologies with fundamental culture and organisational practices. This project is considered one more step towards the goal of delivering improved and more efficient healthcare facilities. This is in line with the UK government’s commitment to a digitally built Britain, and contributes to the CDBB mission to create digitally-enabled transformation for construction and the built environment.

Professor Patricia Tzortzopoulos, School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield is leading a multidisciplinary research team from the University of Huddersfield (UK), with colleagues from University College London and in collaboration with the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.