Monday, 18 November 2013

AGI Showcase: North Review

The Calm...
Yesterday saw the penultimate event in this year’s showcase event series. I believe I've already explained the purpose behind the showcase events in the Northern Ireland summary so I won’t repeat myself here.

The event was held at the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) labs just outside York (well it was in the conference room not the actual labs). The sprawling landscaped FERA complex provided a bright and airy venue (although slightly sinister if you've ever seen a Resident Evil film) for the showcase event.

The event ran two concurrent streams, one of presentations and one of technical sessions. The overall themes of the conference were around Asset Management and Risk with an undertone of 3D and BIM particularly in the Asset Management presentations.
The conference opened with talks on Implementing BIM to realise benefits and Master Planning of cities. Both talks contained a message of progress in integrating BIM and GI and the danger of missed opportunities for both if this does not continue. There was also a suggestion (which was picked up later in the day) that BIM should be incorporated within the broader label of SMART cities.

After the break I attended the presentations stream (not wanting my ignorance to be exposed in a technical session). This consisted of a presentation from STAR-APIC/1Spatial on 3D data, Peter Mingins looking at integration benefits of GIS and Asset Management and Rollo Home making the case for integration of BIM and GIS in managing the nation’s infrastructure. A couple of particularly interesting points came out of these presentations (in my humble opinion). Firstly Peter Mingins raised the Government’s smart metering scheme as the second biggest infrastructure project of the coming years (after HS2) and an excellent example on
integration between BIM (smart metering itself) and GIS in managing the roll out and then management of these assets. All of which come together to help inform a smarter city... holistic. Rollo Home followed up on the case for a joined up approach to infrastructure and raised the issue that maybe the ‘Building’ in BIM pigeonholes what is an extremely versatile concept/tool. Maybe it’s time to lump all the various tools for infrastructure management under SMART cities (or SMART countries...)?

After lunch we had three different case studies on risk management (two on flood risk and the other a little less specific). One of the flood risk presentations was an overview of an interesting project to asses all risk structures in Manchester. This actually tied in well with the asset management theme of the earlier talks as each hazard (culvert, reservoir etc) was effectively being treated like an asset to be catalogued and monitored leading to a better schedule of maintenance.

If something goes wrong you don't
want to live within these circles
This was followed up by an interesting presentation from Kirsty Forder of the Health and Safety Laboratory. This showed how they use the National Population Database to look at populations near hazard sites (COMAH sites, Nuclear Power Stations, dodgy night clubs). The ability to produce demographic modelling that can display vulnerable populations with different projections for night and day was quite impressive. However it would have been interesting to have a presentation on how this information is communicated to and used by the relevant parties.

The final session had a great presentation from the BGS on how they are using mobile and web apps to make their extensive geological mapping data available (and a claim that geologists were the first to be making 3D maps, a matter of some dispute I believe). This was followed up by some fiery rhetoric from Bob Barr on ‘the great data robbery’; the privatisation of PAF data under the sale of Royal Mail. This well supported rabble rousing presentation provided an excellent finale to the event.
The Storm!

Overall the event had a good deal of variety amongst the speakers whilst managing to hold on to a key theme. Highlights of the event were the ongoing conversation around BIM, GIS and SMART cities and how we can leverage all the tools at hand to manage our infrastructure and environment in increasingly more efficient ways. The challenges and opportunities provided by the smart metering of energy was also an interesting point and it seemed that the scale of the project was not perhaps previously apparent to many of the delegates.

Next up the final showcase of the year AGI Cymru in Cardiff on December 3rd.

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