Event archive

Event Organiser: ICE

My Digital Day: Evolution or Revolution?, Belfast

  • Lecture
  • Belfast
  • 05 December 2019
  • 14:00 - 16:00
My Digital Day: Evolution or Revolution?, Belfast

About this event

Join ICE President Paul Sheffield at this lively debate, facilitated by BBC journalist, Mark Simpson.

Our varied panel of speakers will give us a short insight into their own experiences welcoming the digital infrastructure world into their lives, from across a spectrum of engagement and knowledge.

You’ll then have the opportunity to share and debate on how well we are adapting to the fourth industrial revolution and how we can better prepare ourselves for what is yet to come.

Please join us for lunch before the event at 1pm in the Hub of the David Keir building.


1.00pm – Doors open and light lunch available
2.00pm – Event begins
4.00pm – Approx. event conclusion


Paul Sheffield CBE

Paul Sheffield

ICE President

Paul studied civil engineering at the University of Surrey, graduating in 1983 and becoming Chartered in 1987. Following graduation, he spent 31 years with the Kier Group, initially working on a wide range of civil engineering and construction projects in various parts of the world including; a gold mine in Papua New Guinea, a commercial development in London, a concrete gravity dam in Snowdonia where he was the Chief Engineer; and latterly as Project Director on CCGT power station in Hertfordshire, a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia, and underground railways in Hong Kong.

Between 2005 and 2010 Paul was on the Board of Kier with responsibility for their global civil engineering and construction activities, and from 2010 to 2014 he was CEO of the Group with overall revenues of £3bn and activities spanning construction, support services, property development and housing.

In 2014 he joined Laing O’Rourke to head their UK and Middle East construction business with close involvement in projects such as Thames Tideway Tunnels and Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, alongside a host of major construction projects including hospitals and commercial buildings.

Paul is currently a non-executive Director of Southern Water Services and is on the Supervisory Board of the Dutch Construction Group BAM. He is also an Industrial Advisor to the Board of Manchester Airport Group working on their capital expansion work at both Manchester and Stansted airports. He is a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Paul will discuss ‘Modular and offsite construction and the advent of smart city infrastructure’

Noting: We have to find ways of improving efficiency and reducing the reliance on site operations to build our future projects. Labour resources, skills availability and work life balance are all affecting the way we resource our projects and we have to rely on our ability to transform our design approach to be able to manufacture in factories or simply by printing in 3D. With increasing density of populations in our cities we have to embrace cyber physical systems to help us manage our living environment.

Chris Caves

Chris Caves

Director, Arup

Chris leads Arup's infrastructure business in Northern Ireland, building this from inception to a team of over 50 people. Over recent years, he has led the delivery of many of Northern Ireland’s most significant projects including A8 Belfast to Larne, A26 Dualling, Coleraine to Derry / Londonderry Track Renewals and Belfast Transport Hub.

Chris will be presenting ‘Is My Phone Digital?'
An honest view of a construction professional grappling with the speed of digital change and the opportunities and challenges that are linked. He will look at areas where digital products and applications are improving efficiency and effectiveness and transforming our lives and our industry. In doing so, he will ask if we are losing touch with our engineering passion and desire to understand what works and what does not.

Director, Arup

Dr Myra Lydon

Myra Lydon

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, Queen’s University Belfast

Myra is a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Queen’s University. Her research is based on SMART Infrastructure systems to enhance the resilience of road networks through data analytics and greater interoperability across asset management systems, focusing specifically on the vulnerability of bridge structures within the network. She is currently working with the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure to develop a digital road map of Northern Ireland road network and a new data-based bridge management system.

Myra will present ‘Roadmap to the NI Infrastructure Digital Twin’
The development of a National Digital Twin (NDT) is a key step in the digital transformation of UK Infrastructure. This will require all national assets to be digitised in a way which will facilitate secure interoperability across all infrastructure systems. Northern Ireland is the only region in the UK where our all our key infrastructure is owned and operated, or at least within arm’s reach of one single organisation, The Department for Infrastructure. This puts us in a unique position to develop the first fully connected digital twin enabling the cross optimisation of decision making in the operation, maintenance and future design of all civil infrastructure.

QUB is working with DfI to build the foundations of a digital road map through the development of data driven bridge management system. A pioneering approach which integrates existing bridge inspection methods with comprehensive regional information is being developed to produce a national digital twin of the Northern Ireland road network. Two-way communication using IoT systems for real time structural health monitoring aims to reduce the need for human inspection. This capability will allow for the future integration of innovative technologies and challenges in terms of climate change and security risks.

Ciara Doherty

Ciara Doherty

Senior Project Manager, WH Stephens

Ciara is a Civil Engineer with 13 years’ experience in the construction industry. With her background predominantly in contracting, she has delivered projects across several sectors including City Quays 2, an 8-storey Grade A office accommodation in Belfast which achieved BREEAM Excellent certification. Ciara’s construction endeavours have also seen her build a 46m suspension bridge in Rwanda, Africa. More recently Ciara has progressed into Project Management consultancy and will lead the renovation and restoration of the iconic Grand Opera House and construction of the new Student Centre for Queens University Belfast.

Ciara will discuss ‘Why digital technology is no longer a choice’
The Digital age is here to stay and all industries are advancing, some faster than others. The aged measures of the construction industry are being replaced with digital technology. Embracing new trends in construction is driving higher profitability, improved safety, better time efficiencies and improved productivity. But can the use of Digital Technology in the workplace also influence personal choice?

Donan Devlin

Donan Devlin

Senior Civil Engineer, DfI

Ronan is a Chartered Senior Civil Engineer working for the Department for Infrastructure within Rivers and manages the Department’s mapping service He also sits on the DfI Rivers’ Digital Strategy Group, which aims to improve the efficiency of work practices by optimising the use of digital techniques.

Ronan will discuss ‘Managing Flood Risk in a Digital Age’

Providing an insight into his role for DfI Rivers in the development and implementation of digital aids in the management of flood risk within Northern Ireland. As well as managing DfI Rivers’ mapping service, Ronan attends the DfI Rivers Digital Strategy Group, with the aim of utilising digital techniques to improve the efficiency of current and future work practices to ultimately deliver value for money. A key component of this work is the innovative Lough Neagh flood forecasting model which aims to utilise hydrological telemetry and meteorological data to model flood events in real-time.

Dr Seán Cullen

Dr Seán Cullen

Lecturer and Research Fellow, Queen’s University Belfast

Seán is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in the School of Natural and Built environment at Queen’s University Belfast. He is currently working on a research project called the Movable-Nexus (M-NEX) which explores how cities can be designed for sustainable use of food, water and energy resources in the context of our changing climate. He is also a co-founder of Belfast Housing Lab, a centre that trials new housing initiatives to increase affordability and accessibility in Northern Ireland.

‘Winning and losing: How do we progress in this accelerated culture?’

Seán will discuss the complexity, nuances and challenges of undertaking research in cities that are being radically transformed by our accelerated culture. New technologies provide seamless resource delivery for instant gratification and continued entertainment, with a side of cognitive dissonance (harder, better, faster, stronger, don’t tell me!). It changes how we engage with the people, spaces, resources and infrastructure of our city in addition to how we imagine its future. Does digital adoption provide order and, if so, what do we lose?

Event venue

Queen’s University Belfast
David Keir Building
Belfast BT9 5AG
United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Georgia Hamilton

e: [email protected]