Mike DeLacey, president of Microdesk spoke about Microdesk’s recent survey that highlights the American public’s concern over infrastructure failures and the lack of government funding.
Last year, DeLacey said Microdesk conducted a survey of design and construction professionals to see what their thoughts were on the decline of infrastructure in the U.S. This year the general public was surveyed. “Some of the primary things the general public recognizes is that there are some real challenges around real quality in the U.S. infrastructure,” said DeLacey. “They feel our infrastructure isn’t where we want it to be but don’t recognize how bad it actually is.”
93% of the general public surveyed believe that the federal government should take the primary role in doing something about the failing infrastructure. The survey is intended to bring awareness to the public and the government, so that hopefully the information will help result in transportation bills to meet the funding requirements.
In addition to the fact that most bridges in the U.S. are 50 years old or older, and are not up to safety standards, natural disasters occurring in increasing frequency have highlighted this situation. The current infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and energy (power and water), cannot withstand natural disasters.
“We’re going in and repairing things after the fact, but we don’t have the plan for preparing before the fact. That’s what we’re trying to shine the spotlight on,” said DeLacey. “We have the ability to do things proactively rather than waiting for things to happen and then coming up with emergency response to that.”
U.S. infrastructure ranks a surprising 15th among world economies, as emerging countries have newer infrastructure. “Many of them invest a percentage of GDP considerably more than the U.S., 3-4 times more, so they are building new infrastructure at a very rapid pace. The U.S. infrastructure mostly is 40-50 years old, and we are investing a very small percentage of the GDP to maintain and replace it.”
Most bridges have a 50-year lifespan and are coming to the end of that lifespan. New technology and materials can be used to make the bridges of the future last longer. However, there is always a tradeoff between costs, quality, longevity, and the question is if the goal is to maintain something as inexpensively as possible to extend lifespan, or put something new in place that will last 50 years, or to put something in place that will last a 100 years. Do we have a comprehensive plan to deal with the fact that the infrastructure is coming to the end of life? What is the plan?
93% of respondents think the government should take the lead role in delivering that funding, however, we currently have a federal government that is shut down.
Private funding has been a way for the federal government to shirk responsibility for critical infrastructure, but 68% disagree that improvements should be provided by the private sector. As those entities take responsibility for roads and bridges, they create toll roads, and that way citizens are paying double for infrastructure – to the federal government through taxes, and tolls via the states and private companies.
The following is Microdesk’s press release on this topic:
NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Microdesk, a leading provider of business and technology consulting services to help firms successfully plan, design, build and operate land and buildings, today unveiled the results of its 2013 “State of the Industry” survey. The survey1 of over 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted online in August by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microdesk, asked questions regarding their sentiments on a wide range of issues, from what infrastructure is believed to be at greatest risk to how improvements should be facilitated.
Following a year in which Americans witnessed the devastating impact of natural disasters including Hurricane Sandy and infrastructure failures such as bridge and building collapses throughout the country, the survey revealed Americans are keenly aware of the country’s failing infrastructure system.
Where U.S. Infrastructure Stands: Americans Recognize Dismal State
A 2013 report from The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. infrastructure a “D+” grade based on condition and needed fiscal investments. According to the survey results, Americans’ sentiments echo the ASCE’s findings, with 77 percent giving infrastructure a “C” grade or below.
The World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitive Report ranked infrastructure in America as 15th among world economies, behind Singapore, United Arab Emirates and others. Americans also recognize that the U.S. is falling behind. Only 20 percent think the U.S. ranks first or among the top five.
Infrastructure Challenges: Americans Show Concern on Bridges, Roads
As America’s infrastructure system faces increased scrutiny, 41 percent of Americans believe that bridges will be most vulnerable to damage and decay. 26 percent believe that roads will be most vulnerable.
Asked to provide insight on what three types of infrastructure systems should receive government funding, sentiment again heavily leaned towards bridges and roads. The results of where funding should go include:
Bridges (63 percent)
Roads (57 percent)
Energy systems (37 percent)
Americans, overwhelmingly concerned with bridges, believe the average age of U.S. bridges is 48 years old. The ASCE sites the average age is 42, indicating Americans may be overly cautious on bridge viability and recognize most are nearing the end of their typical 50-year design life.
Tools For Change: Americans Look to Technology, Government
Americans rank major infrastructure failures as their greatest infrastructure-related concern (32 percent), followed by tax increases due to repairs needed (20 percent).
Overwhelmingly, 93 percent of Americans feel that the government should play any primary role in helping guide U.S. infrastructure improvement.
While President Obama made unsuccessful attempts to call on lawmakers to approve funding this past year, the survey reveals a majority of Americans (41 percent) believe the lack of funding for proper maintenance is the greatest risk to the U.S. infrastructure system.
As concern mounts around major infrastructure failures, and the associated costs, Americans identify the following solutions for getting America’s infrastructure back on its feet:
Technology: a majority (90 percent) agrees that technology plays an important part in improving the quality of U.S. infrastructure.
Private vs. Public Funding: 68 percent disagree that improvements should be financed by private funding, not government funding.
Regulation: 75 percent agree that increased government attention in the form of laws and funding is needed to improve the quality of infrastructure.
“After a hard year in which Americans experienced the devastating effects of everything from hurricanes and tornados to bridge failures and train derailments, there is a strong awareness that our infrastructure system is in serious danger,” said Michael DeLacey, President, Microdesk. “Our consumer survey shows that Americans are looking for a combination of government leadership and funding, along with new technologies, to get U.S. infrastructure back on its feet. This mirrors the sentiment we saw in our first State of the Industry survey2, as well as other recent polls of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry professionals. As consumer awareness grows, now is the time for a serious discussion around next steps.”
In recent years we have seen a huge growth in the use of Building Information Modeling in the construction industry. At Autodesk University 2012, Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of information modeling and platform products group (IPG) at Autodesk, outlined his predictions for the construction industry in 2013. Specifically, Amar believes the following trends will drive critical change in how construction firms compete for business and deliver completed projects:
1. National Infrastructure Discussions Evolve Into Global Discussions
Discussions on national infrastructure will evolve into global conversations on interconnected transportation and financial systems. For example, completion of the Panama Canal will force the U.S. East Coast to upgrade their ports to accommodate a massive increase in traffic and ship size.
2. Infrastructure Priorities: Developing vs. Developed Regions
Today, there is a marked divide between the infrastructure priorities of developed and developing countries. Developing countries are creating, funding and building brand new infrastructure systems while developed countries are trying to fix their crumbling systems in order to address the needs of tomorrow.
3. Innovative Funding Models
No matter the end goal, funding is a critical concern across the world. We’re beginning to see alternative funding models such as PPPs emerge, and with that project teams, processes and priorities are beginning to change. A significant portion of funding will likely come from foreign investors looking for low risk projects across geographies, forcing project owners to compete on a global scale and learn to work with the increased transparency demanded by private investors.
4. Construction Green Lights Mobile Productivity
While some may consider this industry to be slow to adopt new technology, in actuality it has simply maintained a strong commitment to business objectives. They do not buy into technology for the hype or mystical promise of “cutting-edge.” In order for technology to be successful in the construction market, it must be tied to the overall business goals and processes. Most recently, the industry has been rapidly adopting mobile technology because of the time and cost benefits of using mobile devices.
5. New “Big Picture” Skill Set Required
Today, the shop floor and the construction job site are closer than they’ve ever been. For example, pre-fab construction is becoming an increasingly important conversation not only in the home building market but also in the commercial market. The use of pre-fab components requires a deeper technological understanding across all disciplines. From the get go, designers, manufacturers and builders need to ensure that the design is flawless, as one mistake could cost thousands of dollars.
Now several months into 2013, BIM is used by many construction contractors to provide information to crews before they begin their work on the project. Mobile computing has advanced as well in the past year with several useful apps to provide not only real-time field data but also geolocated field data. Even though BIM has notable 3D capabilities, for the construction industry the BIM model is generally converted to a 2D drawing with less of the available data shown to the user.
Keeping the model in 3D for a longer part of the construction process allows all professionals on the job to access a greater level of accuracy at the jobsite. With the help of laser scanners, total stations and multi-stations to gather real-world data in the field, users can merge this data with the model data already in the office for a bigger picture. This would help with scheduling dilemmas later on in the process and ensure valid information at every stage in the lifecycle of the project.
IMSI Design is a pioneer in many areas of CAD, most recently in the area of mobile solutions for AEC. Adding to their list of credits is the launch this week of the free TurboSite Plug-In for Autodesk AutoCAD, a free plug-in that allows AutoCAD users to view geolocated video, photos, markup and text notes gleaned from the field all inside the AutoCAD application. The addition of the “geolocation” technology developed in-house, into an IMSI app elevates this product beyond a regular mobile app. According to CEO Bob Mayer, geolocation was added into the first version of TurboSite. With the new app, at any point in a building or plan, you can create an accurate geolocated GeoMark and using the built-in camera, take as many photos, videos, dictation, and text notes needed for the job. Then you can view the geolocated video, photo, markup, and text documentation directly within AutoCAD.
Although AutoCAD has been used over the years by many who are self-taught in the CAD software, in the last year the number of US and Canadian professionals seeking certification in the use of Autodesk software has risen by 10% as employers and employees recognize the benefits of validating skills. There are now 14,181 architects, designers, engineers and CAD professionals certified across North America; 60% increase since 2010.
“Globalization and the increasing competitiveness of the job market are driving the need for a universal standard to demonstrate skills levels,” says Julie Gaudet, Senior Director, Customer Operations of Gilmore Global Logistics Services, Inc, worldwide distributor for Autodesk training and course materials. “Also, businesses need to maximize their investment in new software. Training and certification help ensure best practice which in turn helps accelerate productivity and encourage higher quality design.”
To meet this growing demand, there are now 231 Autodesk Authorized Training Centers (ATCs) across North America and 615 authorized training instructors; 18% more than 3 years ago.
Sean Flaherty, CEO and Dr. Biplab Sarkar, CTO of Nemetschek Vectorworks spoke last week in a webinar about their software launch of Vectorworks 2014.
Flaherty gave a business overview of the company and its progress:
Although Nemetschek Vectorworks is headquartered in the U.S. their customer base is very global, Flaherty explained, with 53% from Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, 28% from Pacific region and 19% from Americas. Their top five user countries are Japan, Germany, UK and Switzerland. AEC remains their biggest market, accounting for 60% of their sales. Landscape and entertainment design are still critical to the company.
Select Subscription customers will be the first to receive this release. Three years ago they launched Select Subscription service. Last year more than half the licenses delivered were to Select members. Vectorworks is seeing positive rebound in the AEC sector.
According to the National Association of HomeBuilders, they predict higher levels of construction activity in the years ahead. Also they are seeing positive signs in multi-family residential and commercial design.
In response to that and other industry insights, Vectorworks has expanded their staff by 50% in the last few years.
BIM continues to be a funnel for information in the architecture industry. Design begins in the mind of the architect. Vectorworks can take the design from the sketchpad to the workflow. Each year more firms are implementing BIM workflow into their projects.
¾ of firms are using BIM software for billable work. This report also found 91% of firms used BIM software for design visualization.
In the UK the government is pushing to become a world leader in BIM, and the National BIM Survey 2013 found that more than 1/3 or 33% of the survey are using BIM, up from only 13% in 2010. “One of the primary ways we feel we can help architects to greater BIM adoption is to provide BIM education to practitioners whether they are Vectorworks users or not,” said Flaherty. “More than half of owners admit to being beginners in BIM expertise.”
“BIM is a new way of realizing projects, one part in the overall BIM processes. In addition to an introduction to BIM processes, Vectorworks also offer industry professionals talks on the process from their standpoints,” said Flaherty.
This perspective of seeing BIM as “new” is refreshing coming from a CAD vendor, as most seem to espouse the belief that BIM is not new.
Vectorworks is very supportive of Open BIM because of its support of transparent open workflow, that allows for collaboration regardless of software tools, its creation of a common language for processes, and ability to provide quality project data that can be used throughout building lifecycle.
Dr. Sarkar gave a rundown of all the features. Here are the features of Vectorworks 2014 as listed in the press release:
The Vectorworks 2014 software includes more than 130 improvements that were developed for better modeling, BIM management, interoperability, usability, performance, and quality. The 2014 product line also features new BIM tools for architects, increased site design capabilities for landscape architects and designers, as well as enhancements to lighting devices, documentation, and graphic controls for entertainment designers. The following list provides a sampling of what design professionals will find inside Vectorworks 2014 software: Enhanced 3D Modeling: This release includes several key improvements to Vectorworks’ already robust 3D modeling capabilities. Built on the industry’s leading modeling kernel, Parasolid®, Vectorworks 2014 offers persistent rendered 3D navigation to provide designers with the ability to easily switch between 3D and rotated Top/Plan views; enhanced walkthrough capabilities, making walkthroughs in OpenGL faster than ever; and the new twist and taper tools that enable users to twist entire solids, solid faces, or NURBS surfaces, as well as taper the faces of 3D objects in a single snap. In addition, the new 3D X-ray Select (patent pending) allows users to temporarily see through solid objects in the area around the cursor.
Mike Gustafson, Product Manager, Tekla answered some questions about Tekla’s BIMsight 1.8 release, a free construction collaboration tool. This new version makes BIM collaboration LIVE and allows you to share models and communicate through the client instantly. The model sharing that was introduced in BIMsight 1.6 is now enhanced by the note sharing capability, thereby eliminating the need to send notes in email.
This morning Autodesk announced a pay-as-you-go model for all the company’s desktop software including the latest Design and Creation Suites, Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Maya LT. A “hangout” was held this morning on Google this morning where Andrew Anagnost, SVP, Industry Strategy & Marketing for Autodesk and other industry specialists, discussed this new offering.
Businesses are increasingly adopting this type of model for consuming services and products as opposed to owning software. Options generally include renting, sharing or purchasing subscriptions such as this “pay-as-you-go” model. This way designers, engineers and architects no longer will have to be concerned about purchasing the next version of the software. New comers will also be able to get up and running on the software with few up-front costs, and get projects started with this software.
Options include quarterly and monthly or annual rental plans for customers who want to stay current with product updates, use of Autodesk 360 cloud services and support. This is a similar option to what Autodesk Subscription customers already enjoy. The rental plan will be available beginning September 2013 and applies to Autodesk AutoCAD Design Suite, AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite, AutoCAD Revit LT Suite, Building Design Suite, Entertainment Creation Suite, Factory Design Suite, Infrastructure Design Suite, Plant Design Suite, Product Design Suite, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya LT.
For those interested in minimalistic living, Tiny Houses may be just the ticket. The home depicted here is a 210 square feet tiny house location in Washington, DC in Boneyard Studios. Photos by Paul Burk and built by Minim Tiny Homes.
This past week Autodesk announced three acquisitions: two for BIM for infrastructure – the technology assets from Bestech Systems and Savoy Computing, Ltd. These investments extend Autodesk’s infrastructure portfolio for road and bridge design and greater adoption of BIM. For third are technology assets from Get The Point, LLC.
Sam — A suite of software modules from UK-based Bestech Systems for loading, analysis and design of small and medium bridge spans. The software will help Autodesk customers save time and increase accuracy and data consistency during the analysis phase of bridge design..
AutoTrack – A suite of software from Savoy Computing, LTD for road, light rail, airport, parking and intersection analysis and design. The technology will further support infrastructure planning by architects, designers and engineers.
Secondly, Autodesk acquired technology assets from Colorado-based Get The Point, LLC and introduced Autodesk Point Layout, new software for layout at construction sites. The acquisition will extend Autodesk’s construction solutions portfolio and BIM in the field.
Autodesk Point Layout automatically creates points from BIM and CAD models within Autodesk Revit, Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Navisworks software. The point data drives robotic total station hardware, such as Topcon’s line of positioning systems and related hand-held devices or tablets, to give contractors and sub-contractors laser-guided pinpoint accuracy for the placement and verification of building elements.
By removing error-prone manual layout techniques, Autodesk Point Layout improves field accuracy and productivity, as building designs are more available and accurate at the construction site. The software used in combination with Autodesk BIM 360 portfolio for field management and coordination will add to the productivity at construction sites and on entire projects.