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Mobilising Digital Assets

Our regular guest blogger, Harrison O’Hara, gives us the highlights from the latest COMIT conference.

On the 24th & 25th May the annual Construction Opportunities for Mobile IT (COMIT) Conference took place in the Building Centre, London. The event promised to be thought provoking and very interesting with a packed agenda. Here are some highlights from the conference:

Mark Bew (Chairman of UK BIM Task Group) discussed the challenges ahead and what we can expect from the fabled BIM Level 3 and even what the future could hold for a BIM level 4 world, with off the wall thinking such as DNA storage and quantum computing. BIM level 3 ultimately exploits big cloud data and the industry is seeking the advice from organisations such as Rolls Royce to help us achieve the BIM level 3 agenda.






Phillip Russel (from One Oak Development) has spent over 40 years in the industry specialising in Operations and Maintenance, his somewhat harsh but honest opinions of the industry stuck a chord with the audience. His fundamental question to the industry is: ‘why are we producing reams and reams of O&M manuals, in a format that is impossible to consume, when those maintaining the assets are now watching quick YouTube videos to easily understand how to maintain assets’? Technology has moved on but the industry hasn’t…it’s time to start thinking differently!



Paul Morris, the Head of Innovation at Tideway and myself, presented on the ‘Safe adoption of mobile technology’. The project aims to promote the use of technology on site by raising awareness, sharing best practice and providing safety guidance for the mobile technology users across the alliance. The project aims to leave a lasting legacy for the industry and ultimately start influencing the safety of construction software. IT was good to see that 94% of the audience would find the portal a valuable tool for their projects.

Chrissi McCarthy and Cristina Savian presented on the importance of career development and the Women in BIM group. Crissi looks at how companies can improve the experience of their employees and helps individuals in their careers. They find focusing on the individual improves the results. Chrissi’s personal experiences as a woman in the industry is direct proof there is still a considerable amount of effort required to improve diversity and people’s attitudes in construction. Women tend to stay in the industry on average 5 years, however typically choose to leave because other sectors provide a more respectful culture and flexible working. Promoting women into the industry alone doesn’t increase the numbers, because we are not focussing on the core challenge of retention.

Cristina then spoke about the vision of Women in BIM, supporting and growing a global community of women in digital construction. Like Chrissi, Cristina left her job because of a negative experience and at time she didn’t have the confidence or support to call it out. So one of the roles of Women in BIM is to mentor and empower women in their roles as well as increase their visibility in a safe way.

Malcolm Taylor, the Head of Technical Information at Crossrail presented on the infrastructure innovations in the rail industry. One excellent user case is the successful Crossrail innovation programme. The CEO of Crossrail asked companies to contribute to the R&D funding (£25k each) which was matched by Crossrail, the innovation programme was known as Innovate18. The success factors were:

  • First Innovation programme of its kind in a mega project like Crossrail
  • Delivered several dozen invested projects that have had a tangible positive impact to the industry
  • Created a strong collaborative culture between the supply chain and client and between the supply chain itself
  • SME engagement (nearly a dozen SMEs and academia have worked with us)
  • Delivered a return on investment without trying (not the aim of our programme!)
  • Created an industry appetite for innovation triggering the migration of the programme to an industry-wide platform i3P
  • Credibility for innovation
  • Inspiring people
  • Having fun!

The COMIT conference was very informative and highlighted some of the key challenges we face in our digital future. If you are interested in attending future COMIT events please get in touch: harrison.ohara@tideway.london

One Response to “Mobilising Digital Assets”

  1. Thanks to Harrison for this update, and Sophie for sharing!

    Interesting to hear about Philip Russel’s presentation in particular, having worked in facilities management a number of years back I recognise his frustration with O&M manuals, our engineers used work-shadowing and mentoring rather than printed manuals, no doubt they are relying on You Tube today.

    I also note the bullet point in the picture about ‘which planned maintenance tasks are actually necessary?’ I spent more time than I care to remember trying to tackle this question for a client and at the time. The available data was just too poor and as a result I had to build in too many assumptions into the model – to the point that the analysis became meaningless. BIM should change this – and it is vital that it does.

    Also an important reminder from Christina and Chrissi’s presentation about Women in BIM, as we tackle the challenge of technology adoption, there remain important people and culture challenges, in particular in terms of diversity, where much more progress is required. The statistic about women tending to stay in the industry for no more than 5 years is simply shocking.

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