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Bentley YII 2019: Year in Infrastructure hits its stride

At the Bentley Year in Infrastructure conference in Singapore, Wednesday morning keynote and guest speakers addressed a capacity crowd on a range of subjects, including the advancement of digitalization and its use in improving infrastructure engineering.

“I believe we’ll always be talking about going digital,” said Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley. “We will always be further connecting, automating and improving better digital workflows. At this juncture, we can say that we are advancing BIM through 4D digital twins.”

At the request of the YII attendees, Tuesday afternoon presented an ACCELARATION day, which provided an in-depth look at Bentley products and technologies, as well as collaboration and idea sharing with Bentley knowledge experts and partners.

Focus on “evergreen” visibility. “Our endeavors until now have been software to produced useful deliverables,” Bentley said, “but they have been for a static and dated purpose. The objective of digital twins is to make the value of those deliverables endure over the longevity of the project and the asset, and to have “evergreen” visibility into what has been dark engineering data, to synchronize its changes over time and open up this dark data for immersive visualization and the visibility of analytics.”

Bentley stressed the continued advancement of BIM, GIS and CAD as part of the digital twin environment, increasing the value of engineers’ work and adding value without having to start over with existing workflows.

He continued to discuss the requirements and characteristics of 4D digital twin. Bentley asserted that there are three main components:

  • Digital context: the reality of projects and assets
  • Digital components: the ET, the engineers’ work, which provides the veracity that allows the digital twin can help simulate and explain the asset’s performance
  • Digital chronology: provide the fidelity over time. It’s only a digital twin if the digital chronology is synchronized and maintained over a lifecycle.

“We don’t have digital twins for the sake of having digital twins,” Bentley said. “We have them to accomplish, enable and facilitate new digital workflows to improve infrastructure engineering.”

Scratching the surface. Sada Iyer, VP of Project Engineering and Project Services at Shell, joined Bentley on stage and shifted the conversation to the oil and gas segment. “From an oil and gas perspective, the time for digital has come,” Iyer said. “For us, the digital twin is the virtual representation of the physical elements and dynamic behavior of the asset through its lifecycle. It democratizes the information.”

Iyer cited results as improved safety and construction planning, critical path analysis and process optimization.

“We are just beginning to scratch the surface; there are many more benefits to discover,” Iyer stated. “The digital twin doesn’t mean handing over all the data without discrimination. The workflows of the next phase must also be understood.

Putting information to use. Paul Murphy, Technology and Technical Applications Leader for GHD, joined the discussion, speaking about how these changes toward digitalization have been induced by technology and changing customer needs.

“If information doesn’t get used in the future, it isn’t valuable,” Murphy asserted. “If it’s not used for the generation of insights or the creation of innovative products, it’s not valuable. So, why would we maintain it as an organizational asset?

“We look at this (digitalization) as a journey. We have set a direction and know that we will see deviations and roadblocks along the way. An important aspect is to get perspective on where you are along that journey. How do you measure success? What does that look lie?” Murphy concluded.

Start with the problem in mind. The final keynote speaker of the morning was Dr. Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI. She stated that technology itself was not the beginning when searching for a solution – the best place to start is acknowledging and classifying the problem. Although she focused much of her presentation on smart cities, particularly the uniqueness and innovations involved in Singapore’s infrastructure, she said, “Because of data, the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), the boundaries between all industries are blurring. It is important to bring your people along as you introduce these new technologies. This eases the transition.”

Dr. Khanna emphasized that one of the unintended consequences of AI was that it provided great power, which must be governed with great responsibility through standards, regulations, frameworks, data privacy, cybersecurity, ethics of algorithms, accounting and transparency.

“AI will revolutionize entire industries and the world itself,” she said.


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