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Data breakthrough ‘could save DfT billions’

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First published 25th April, by New Civil Engineer. 

Transport chiefs could save billions of pounds through a newly developed smart data platform, the group behind it has claimed.

The Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) Living Lab programme believes its Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre (IICC) could create substantial efficiencies for client bodies. By boosting take-up of modern ways of working across the construction sector, the digital platform aims to create more cost-effective delivery of projects.

Costain strategic growth manager Charlie Davies, who has managed the development of the IICC, said the system could ultimately cut the cost of construction. “When you look at the scale of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) portfolio over the next five years – that is a huge scale of data and projects,” he told delegates at an online event last week. “If we have a single source of truth for all of those then that enables us to be more efficient on our decision-making processes when delivering UK infrastructure.”

Figures released by the Treasury at last year’s autumn Budget outlined that the DfT had a £96bn capital budget for the five years to April 2025. Davies said massive benefits could be gained from making sure lessons learned on one project were taken on by future schemes. “We are reducing the amount of re-engineering, ensuring that where step changes are realised this is transferred across your portfolio.”

Neil Robertson, chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Rail, added that a productivity review had highlighted savings of up to 4% in other sectors adopting similar data platforms. “Looking at the DfT portfolio, 4% is quite a lot,” he said. “It is just a potential figure but the point is to start to implement this now and we will see the benefits.” Robertson added that uncertainty over the true timetable and cost of projects was often a barrier to getting them off the ground.

“Consistent overruns are cited as a reason for not investing so greater precision may lead to more engineering,” he said.

The TIES Living Lab is a collaboration of 25 partners focusing on 10 infrastructure, data research and digital demonstrator projects. The group works with the government, the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership, the Construction Innovation Hub and academics to tackle the systemic issues it believes obstruct the use, integration and adoption of innovations that drive productivity in construction.

Link to article on New Civil Engineer, click here.