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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

AECCafe Predictions for 2018

January 4th, 2018 by Susan Smith

Happy New Year!

Approaching a new year, the technologies that we saw growing during 2017 may unfold into 2018 to become realized with deeper understanding.

Some of those technologies will become part of the whole architecture/engineering/construction vision. And each will be linked in some way to the other:

Singapore Land Authority

Smart Cities, which we’ve been talking about for years, are actually being built in some parts of the world. And to make those smart cities and countries, in some cases, viable, we will grow greater confidence in artificial intelligence, vehicle technology, connectivity from smart phones, mobile and IoT devices, drones, augmented and virtual realities and green technology. While these technologies may seem a far cry from the day-to-day work in the trenches of many AEC professionals, they are destined to become an integral part of government, road and rail, bridges, commercial and residential infrastructure as the capabilities develop.

Connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence

This holiday season saw a big upset as Amazon slashed prices on its Echo Dot smart speaker and its Alexa voice assistant to $30, forcing the price of Google Digital Home Devices down, and complicating the release of Apple’s HomePod. Amazon limited the purchase of Echo Dots to three per family. Sales went through the roof, and these are backordered for an extended period of time.

What does this device do and how does it impact our lives?

Smart speakers start talking only under specific circumstances, like when they are awakened and spoken to, or when there’s a timer or reminder set up, or when someone calls the device.  A Talking Digital Assistant like Echo may ultimately connect more devices and complete more tasks around government, commercial and private establishments than has been previously been possible.

And on the social spectrum, will it supplant friendships, do shopping, repair plumbing for us? Will we relinquish more responsibility to devices than we already have?

What are the ramifications for security as Amazon collects information from its Echo devices (and other servers will do too)?

Artificial intelligence, which this device technology is an example of, is a collection of advanced technology that allows machines to sense, comprehend, act, and learn. Echo Dots can learn how to recognize your voice, sense your voice and comprehend and act on a command. The notion is that AI can in fact “improve productivity and lower costs, unlock more creative jobs and creating new growth opportunities.” Ultimately, customers could pay for goods by simply using their voice.

Business Insider Intelligence predicts that Amazon will continue to perform strongly and lead the U.S. market in the smart speaker market, selling more than 70 million smart speakers through 2025. It is expected that more devices will also feature screens in the future.

Vehicle Technology

 This year, many popular software providers have discussed their role in the upcoming self-driving car technology. The foot is on the accelerator with this technology, with many technology providers developing new aspects of this future tech.

Test drive of Nissan’s brain-to-vehicle technology (B2V) in Atsugi, Japan.Photographer: Camille Lim/Nissan Motor Co.

While it may not seem imminently viable to AEC professionals, it is technology that will affect not only our workforce but also the way we build roads, rail and bridges, to incorporate self-driving vehicles. As it impacts those infrastructures, it will then impact the destination infrastructure that is connected by those networks. So while it might not be something that you will encounter when you go to work this coming Monday morning, research and development is under way to bring future technology to fruition.

Technology for autonomous driving such as Sanborn 3D HD Maps and the navigation technology to operate driverless cars is challenged by the need to reduce unattainable time and costs of autonomous car testing.

Their outcomes have been as follows:

  • High-precision 3D base maps
  • Substantial reduction in production time
  • 3D mesh used in driving simulation tool
  • automotive partners visualize and analyze 3D models on the Web

Just this week, Nissan announced its R&D to use brainwave sensors to detect what a driver intends to do in the next fraction of a second, or in a self-driving car, what he expects the car to do.

Smart Cities and Nations 

In the U.S. we have many cities using smart city technology but not to the extent it is being used in Europe and Asia.

Asian land development is eager to use every new technology that is released, including reality modeling and self-driving cars. Their growth is profound and they have fewer regulations to limit the way they build. The adoption of technologies to realize cities takes place more quickly there than anywhere else in the world.

China’s next big new city is the new Beijing capital. According to Santanu Das, senior vice president, Design and Modeling at Bentley, they’re moving the capital away from Beijing. to between Beijing and Tianjin. About 200 miles to the east, it is a USD $118 B project and they’re going to finish it in five years. There is no environmental impact report that needs to be done. They don’t have government regulations of flyover, data capture, conversions, like in the U.S. There’s probably a 2 million population between those two locations.

A small nation/state/city such as Singapore is well poised to take advantage of and demonstrate this exciting new technology. Singapore will become a blueprint for larger nations to embrace a holistic view of building, incorporating all the requirements of a nation that it was not possible to do at the birth of most countries.

Chief executive of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Tan Boon Kai, gave a keynote entitled “Towards a Geo-Enabled Smart Nation” at this year’s Bentley “Year in Infrastructure 2017” event in Singapore, talking about Singapore’s push towards being the “world’s first smart nation.” This involves improving the lives of citizens, creating more opportunities and building stronger communities.

Using good data, the government can carry out better measurements and improve the nation’s performance holistically. They have limited land, and it takes just an hour to get from the airport to the furthest point on the island. Their goal is to optimize land resources for the economic and social development of Singapore.

In supporting Smart Nation, Kai said they need digital transformation, to ensure interoperability, evolving from 2D to 3D and beyond.

Terrain models and 3D mapping shown in the 3D City model for Virtual Singapore is in a virtual environment.

Massive amounts of data are collected for over 6,000 roads in Singapore. 3D models collect roads and street furniture, and support driverless vehicles of the future. Laser scanning for heritage documentation allows the country to protect their national monuments.

“We are looking at methodologies to allow us to capture models and manage underground networks to integrate above and underground 3D Map,” said Kai.

“We need better insight into indoor infrastructure and how buildings are created as indoor data is critical for us,” said Kai. “You’ll soon be able to input BIM data, to increase the level of data you have.”

“Our challenges in Singapore in many government agencies, is how do you accurately capture the next generation of utility data underground, while ensuring today’s underground data is accurate?” Kai asked. “There’s no way of verifying underground drawings are accurate unless you dig.”

They will need to do more underground modeling, said Kai. Many countries share these challenges and if we can all find a solution in common, then technologies will be created to address the issue.

If these weren’t large enough challenges, Kai said they are working on driverless vehicle development, with SiReNT precise navigation capability for driverless cars.

Augmented and Virtual Realities

Most popular and notable design software companies offer some kind of augmented and/or virtual reality tools. These are in greater use than ever before, as they can help clients visualize potential planning and building sites, as well as specific infrastructure.

Autodesk partner WakingApp, was established almost 4 years ago to enable designers to create and view AR and VR experiences easily without writing a single line of code.

The ENTiTi platform is designed for non-programmers, allowing the creation of dynamic behaviors through a patent-pending technology with a smooth, easy-to-use interface. The platform is cloud-based and the content is interchangeable. Whenever content is generated or updated, it is immediately available for viewing on multiple platforms including mobile devices, GearVR, and desktop devices such as the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive.

Fusion 360 add-in has been launched by ENTiTi that allows seamless content-generation. With just a few mouse clicks, you can turn your CAD into AR or VR, and share it with your friends, clients, and colleagues.

This is an exciting development that brings what used to be complicated to non-technical users. Bentley LumenRT is used to enliven models with life and nature, and produce attractive visuals.  No matter your technical experience, you can easily use LumenRT to render cinematic quality in real time, animate models, incorporate digital nature, integrate seamlessly within CAD and GIS workflows, and share your creations with other stakeholders and clients.

Green and Zero Carbon Achievement

The need to support green building and eco-conscious choices in buildings is a persistent requirement in infrastructure, and vendors will continue to develop to achieve carbon neutrality in infrastructure. One of the more eco-conscious organizations is Architecture 2030.

In 2017, Architecture 2030 formed a partnership between IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and Architecture 2030, to support the international architecture and building community in the design of zero net carbon (ZNC) buildings.

IFC’s EDGE green building team is aligned well with Architecture 2030’s vision to “rapidly transform the global built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate crisis,” according to CEO Vincent Martinez.

IFC is a global development finance institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Their EDGE program offers a measurable solution proving the financial case for green building. Included in EDGE is a green building certification system with free software.

IFC and Architecture 2030 have been collaborating for four or five years, strategizing to share knowledge and support one another’s efforts in sustainable design efforts.

IFC is only for developing international markets. EDGE is trying to tackle the broad base of addressing it at a large scale. It’s like any other green building rating system that’s voluntary, in some countries it’s engrained with political organizations or standards organization where it is used for a portion of code or completely for the code. They’re in 131 countries so each is slightly different.

In some cases, NGOs use EDGE to try to promote in those countries, so there might be a green building council in some of those countries that would promote multiple rating systems like LEED, Green Globe and EDGE and in certain cases the GBCs are not rating system focused. This would be another tool.

EDGE is also limited to six different building types. Many green building systems apply to a larger number of building types. It is focused on single family homes, hotels, retail office and hospitals.

“It’s a powerful tool. Usually in the U.S. we have statistical databases that will tell us how much energy an office building in a certain area and certain size, will use and its energy consumption. But very rarely does it break down energy end uses as EDGE does,” said Martinez.


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Categories: 2030 Districts, 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11, 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, 3D printing, AEC, AECCafe, apps, Archicad, architecture, Architecture 2030, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, Civil 3D, Cloud, collaboration, construction, convergence, engineering, field, field solutions, file sharing, generative design, geospatial, GIS, infrastructure, Internet of Things, IoT, lidar, mobile, mobile printing, plant design, point clouds, project management, reality capture, rendering, site planning, sustainable design, terrain, video, virtual reality, visualization, wearable devices, Year in Infrastructure 2017, YII 2017, YII2017

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