Why large-scale infrastructure projects are turning to digital
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As Sensat is announced as one of the first five cutting-edge UK tech firms to join the HS2 Innovation Accelerator initiative, we take stock of what this means for us, HS2, and digital adoption as a whole as large-scale development projects turn to tech to ‘build’ better infrastructure across the country.
Some of the brightest minds today are driving the latest technological advancements to build start-ups that provide digital solutions to the civil infrastructure and AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) sectors. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by nationwide infrastructure projects and larger construction companies, who are embracing this new tech and riding the wave of digital transformation to enable greater productivity, collaboration, sustainability and more informed decision making throughout the supply chain. The HS2 Innovation Accelerator initiative is one programme leading the charge.
Sector technology adoption
As the world of civil infrastructure enters its next wave based on digital development, we’re seeing a shift in the adoption of technology among construction companies.
New and advancing digital technologies to support construction, site and data management, enable project directors, managers and engineers to do their job with higher precision, therefore reducing inefficiencies and making cost and time-estimates more accurate. Additionally, new software can house all project data in one place, which means detailed depictions of a project’s progress can be tracked and monitored, and AI can help add context to enable better decision making. This is extremely powerful as it can save the sector valuable resources both in terms of time and budget, while site records are kept up to date and communication across teams is made easier enabling collaboration.
It’s a no wonder that some of the latest technologies are being fast-tracked to help support this sector and its own digital progress.
How HS2 is making the most out of digital
Over the last year, Sensat has been involved in delivering one of the largest strategic unmanned air vehicle surveying jobs in the UK across the entire phase one route of HS2, and is now excited to be a part of its Innovation Accelerator initiative.
Using autonomous mapping drones, the team produced digital topographical surveys of the proposed rail line and with a corresponding data set made up of 18.4 billion data points, boasting visuals of the terrain that can be more than 100 times more accurate than satellite data. Not only were the team able to shave off time of data delivery by negating constant landowner engagement, but they could also produce significant cost savings, reach areas to gather data thought to be inaccessible before, and take workers off-site where potential health and safety hazards may have been. What typically would have required 470 individual drone flights to map 147km, instead took just 47 individual flights. This data was then visualised on Sensat’s platform so that it could be shared and used for decision making by stakeholders on the project.
Drone survey data with CAD visualised on Mapp
This is just one example of digital adoption by the HS2 project and one that demonstrates a better way to build and make progress, saving time and money, and delivering more accuracy to support site development.
Being part of the HS2 Innovation Accelerator initiative
To support some of the start-ups and new tech being embraced by HS2, the company behind Britain’s new high-speed rail network recently announced the first five cutting-edge tech firms that will join its Innovation Accelerator programme--out of 109 applicants.
The programme is set to target HS2’s innovation challenges of productivity, the environment, and the circular economy. As one of the first five to join the programme, Sensat will receive commercial and technical support to develop its data services and visualisation platform to help deliver Europe’s largest infrastructure project.
We will use the programme and people working on HS2 to develop our cloud-based platform to capture, visualise and track infrastructure project data. We want our 3D visualisation to help project managers and engineers to collaborate remotely from any location, reducing the need for site visits and enabling progress tracking in a very visual way. By understanding the needs of HS2, the workflows and key tasks, we can build a ‘must-have’ platform helping overcome challenges and pain points but also improve decision-making and collaboration.
After six months of development, the Accelerator firms’ solutions will be showcased and pitched to industry investors and HS2's supply chain, consisting of the thousands of companies ranging from the largest international engineers to specialist suppliers to the project.
HS2 Ltd’s Head of Innovation, Howard Mitchell, said of the firms joining the programme: “HS2 is already showcasing the very best of British skills and innovation, and the five companies shortlisted for the Innovation Accelerator today are shining examples of this. The size and scale of this project creates the perfect environment to encourage innovation and develop technologies that can create long-term business opportunities both in and beyond the rail and construction sectors.”
Sensat CEO, James Dean said, “HS2 is an opportunity not only to build a world-class railway but a legacy for the U.K. as a world-class technology-led engineering economy. I’m delighted that Sensat has the opportunity to not only partake in this but contribute to significantly helping the delivery of our most important infrastructure. while also using our technology to support sustainability, taking the complexity out of physical world data and adding context so users can make more informed and accurate decisions.”
Check out our latest brochure to learn how to capture and visualise topographical survey data faster and more efficiently using drones.
Read more about HS2's accelerator programme here.