Technology & the Explosive Era of Invention & Innovation

January 5, 2017

We are living in a period of extraordinary technological change. The exponential growth of computer processing power has led to an explosive era of invention and innovation. The richness and ubiquity of handheld communication devices is the stuff of yesterday’s science fiction. It is here now and it is everywhere.

When there is rapid and disruptive change in society, it can lead to an imbalance. Industries are not always ready to capitalize on innovations due to the high complexity of new technologies, and many are caught by surprise by protecting the entrenched processes that served them well in the past. Similarly, individuals and organizations are also at risk of missing out on opportunities if they allow the constraints of the way they have always done things, to become obstacles in the path to digital transformation.

Information technology has created many opportunities in the construction industry. One of the most exciting innovations is the ability to build a digital information model of the physical building, and simulate how the engineering design will perform in the real world. The benefits extend beyond visualization and simulation. A well-defined building model can yield opportunities for material and equipment selection and analysis that were not available in the traditional sheet-drawing delivery process. The owners benefit from desirable outcomes in the form of lower construction costs and reduced operating costs over the life of the building.

These desired outcomes must be identified as primary objectives during the initial stages of the project. The work necessary to deliver value on these promises is quantitatively different from the way things have been done before. New skills, new tools and new processes are needed to create a viable building information model (BIM) that will add value at every stage of development, from concept design, through construction, to property management.

As difficult as it is to predict the future, there are several trends that promise to reconstitute our clients’ expectations and revolutionize how we interact with the real world. Autonomous robots, machine learning, the internet of things and 3D printing have emerged as technologies that will impact our daily lives within the next decade. Smart buildings will collect data from a sea of sensors inside them. Advanced algorithms will analyze information and present insights that were previously inaccessible to designers, builders, and property managers alike. Augmented reality will render the built environment and overlay information controls that operators can observe and interact with through headsets in a totally immersive environment, blurring the lines between the virtual and physical world.

Williams Engineering Canada (WEC) has been at the forefront of BIM innovation in Canada, identifying challenges and opportunities early and accurately. WEC has collaborated with owners, architects and contractors to provide smart solutions and engineering services with exceptional customer service.

Smart buildings begin with smart designs, and smart designs are the result of smart conversations. WEC has transformed its business practices to embrace digital workflows that enable our experts to plan, deliver and communicate projects in precise detail around people, schedule and budget – and driven by our keystone habit: Quality. Our commitment to quality brings into existence a culture of attention to detail and continuous improvement that is backed up by technology and a thorough peer review process.

As the world becomes more technologically complex, selecting consultants that can organize, analyze, and present vast amounts of information is critical. It is estimated that more data has been created in the past two years than in the entirety of human history. In the context of construction and property management, digital building models, cloud-based sensors, and augmented reality user interfaces will push human cognition to its limits.

We are already seeing the evolution in many of our client’s projects from data to “big data” to “huge data.” One of the axioms of innovation is the acceptance of risk. And in an unpredictable backdrop of technological transformation, one of the biggest risks governments and businesses face is overspending. WEC is focused on leveraging digital technologies as an enabler for producing the outcomes that our clients desire by integrating design choices in a fluent experience and connecting people and information in a timely and cost-effective manner.