Now in its second year, Digital Construction Week will be held 26 -27 October in London and will be looking to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event. Once again, the impact of technology and innovation in the built environment will be examined and will see thousands of the most influential thought leaders and decision makers in attendance.
In the first of a two part interview, UK Construction’s Matt Brown speaks to Oliver Hughes, Director of Digital Construction Week, about the reaction to last year’s event and the preparation for the 2016 show.
Following the success of last year’s event, what was the response from those who attended?
We have had a really fantastic response to the content we put on and the show’s agenda. The most positive response was linked to moving the conversation on to the broader idea of technology and innovation in the built environment. Working through and exploring the opportunities associated with digitisation and its power to help transform the industry. But also in helping make sense of and highlighting some of the trends we’re seeing come in to the industry.
The feedback has been that it was really refreshing to see something quite different, quite new that’s aimed at helping move the industry forward. We have had a lot of great supporters and certainly the event wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Overall, it’s all been really positive, which is great for a first year event. Our aim now is to increase our reach and encourage as many people as possible to come and join us at the event. We want the event to be accessible for all not just the early adopters or the technical experts – although their obviously our core audience.
How have you been spending your time since last October?
Recovering! Of course we have been getting everything in place. Last year was the show’s first year, so we encountered the inevitable teething problems and wanted to iron them out. There’s still a little bit of finding our way to a degree as far as our identity as a show and how we can best help drive the agenda forward as that’s what we’re really passionate about trying to do.
In particular, we’ve set about streamlining some of our content and making clearer the different elements of the show and our content programme. We have got our main stage conference again which we will feature a new line up of high-level speakers. Including, Paul Morrell, Anne Kemp (Atkins), Sadie Morgan (dRMM), John Pelton (Crossrail), David Hancock (Cabinet Office) and many more.
We’ve also introduced four new seminar stages: The Innovation Theatre, which is unashamedly focussed on all the future technologies and processes. Additive manufacturing, UAVs, robotics, VR, Modern Methods of Construction and everything else along those lines. All the things that are really exciting and stand to make a real impact on the industry but perhaps aren’t quite there yet or aren’t common place at least.
There is a stage that is our Digital in Action Theatre, which is very much about practical case studies. If you’re a project manager, an architect or an SME for example, what are the practical steps you can take now to improve the way you deliver projects or improve the way you work as a business? So that’s real case studies and real learning there for the right now.
The BIM Village is back and we’re working closely with the newly formed UK BIM Alliance on the content for this stage. The BIM Village will provide much more practical advice and guidance for BIM. The Level 2 deadline has been and gone but there’s still a lot of questions and the BIM Village will be geared up to help answer them. We won’t get overly technical it’s more about understanding the process and the questions you should be asking.
We are also introducing our Tech Stage as well, which will showcase technical expertise and be more product focused and ‘out of the box’ – you’ve got your head round the fact that you need to do adopt these digital processes but what do they look like when your sat at your desk or out on the work site.
Amongst the myriad of other things, we have been doing is setting up some key industry partnerships. We are working very closely with HS2 who are going to take a big pavilion at the exhibition, looking at the next 30 years of procurement and how innovation will play a role. Which we’re very excited about. We’re also working with Innovate UK and KTN on our Innovation / Start Up Village. And Crossrail, The BIM Task Group, Cabinet Office teams amongst others have all been really supportive.
The main focus of all of this really is to increase our reach across the industry.
What are you hoping to achieve from this year’s event?
Our main goal as a show over the next two to three years is to really get out across to the entire industry. The digital agenda is one that impacts us all and we want to offer a platform that’s accessible to all. It’s about creating an understanding and awareness really and that’s what I suppose the show is trying to drive.
Some of the trends and themes we’re seeing such as; BIM, IoT, Smart Buildings, Big Data, and their potential impact on things like sustainability, skills, training etc. are incredibly exciting. But they’re big topics that require real expertise and understanding to make them viable. We’d like to help people learn about and explore these ideas and help people make them a reality.
All of our conference and seminar sessions are aimed at helping people develop their own strategies, understanding the questions they should be asking themselves, and what outcomes they want to achieve. Technology is kind of the easy bit really. We want to help people figure out how it applies to their business and their projects and the processes they should be exploring.
Part II of this exclusive interview be available next week.
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