Technology, governance and image essential to meet future infrastructure challenges

Embracing technology – in particular the power of data, concentrating on whole-life cycle sustainable outcomes, fostering a new culture through smart governance, and promoting the industry through positive projects are key to meeting the construction and infrastructure challenges of the future, according to Richard Threlfall, Head of Global Infrastructure, KPMG, addressing construction industry delegates at the sixteenth annual JCT Povey Lecture on Thursday, 8th November 2018.

Richard Threlfall showed in his presentation, “Collaborative, Connected and Cool: How technology and governance could transform the impact, efficiency and image of the construction industry”, that we will build more in the next 40 years than we have in the last 4000.

With the demands on the industry increasing, more modern, innovative solutions will be required, increasingly relying on the industry’s ability to integrate advances in technology, utilise the power of data and analytics, and employ governance across the industry that encourages investment.

Richard demonstrated the significant impact that the value of data is having on the way infrastructure is being procured, built and managed.

Data use is informing not only the investment into infrastructure projects, but is informing modern construction techniques – using off-site manufacturing and BIM for example, and is also pivotal in managing the asset post-construction phase and maximising the end-user experience.

Richard also explained how a governance change, focusing on whole life cycle and sustainable outcomes instead of the current tendency towards short-termism is also a factor to future success, in particular placing the responsibility for investment with the owners of the projects, as the principal agents in procuring new infrastructure.

With infrastructure and the construction industry playing a vital role in delivering the mechanisms and services of a functioning society, concentrating on the final outcome of a project and looking at the number of inspiring projects is important in promoting the industry and enabling it to be seen as an attractive prospect for future generations.

“Data and analytics is allowing us to plan, build, maintain and operate infrastructure far more efficiently than ever before.

“[However] we’re trying to use a short-term industry to build long-term outcomes. It just doesn’t work […] It’s not just about the asset creation; it’s about the asset over its whole life. But to make this stick we need governance reform.”

“It’s about focusing on the ultimate outcomes of what we’re trying to achieve in societies […] Construction is an industry that designs, builds, and maintains the infrastructure that delivers those public outcomes. So what we do as a construction industry has a huge impact on society”.

Highlights from Richard Threlfall’s Povey lecture are available to view on the JCT website at: