AI's impact on built environment sector

Built environment professionals believe that artificial intelligence is going to have a significant impact on how they work – according to a survey recently conducted by ICE.

  • Updated: 11 September 2017
  • Author: Ben Goodwin, ICE Policy Manager

The survey results revealed:

  • 73% of built environment professionals think that AI will have a significant impact on their organisations
  • 78% of built environment professionals are positive about the impact of AI on the sector

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Key findings from industry AI workshop

The potential impact of AI on the built environment sector was also discussed at a recent workshop convened by ICE and the National Infrastructure Commission.

Attendees included tech companies, civil engineers, contractors and academics.

The discussion was split into 4 sessions. The key findings are:


AI will lead to substantial improvements to the design and delivery of infrastructure, in turn boosting productivity levels. But in order for this to be realised there is a need to embed data expertise across the sector.


Piloting and testing is necessary if machine learning and AI technologies, together with robotics and virtual reality, are to transform the built environment. Likewise, cultural change and leadership across industry is needed to drive the AI revolution.

Governance and data

The pace of technological change and the data requirements associated with AI mean that creating a governance framework is very challenging. Issues around privacy, security and intellectual property also need addressing.

Skills and ethics

Civil engineers of the future will require different training and skillsets to get to grips with AI, including greater crossover with other disciplines like social sciences. There is also an immediate need for interested parties to work together to create solutions to the ethical question marks that exist in relation to AI.

Read full workshop summary

Future ICE research and discussions into AI

ICE plans to hold further round-tables and workshops to explore these big issues and themes in more detail. There are many other questions that the built environment sector should explore in relation to AI including:

  • In what areas should the built environment sector concentrate efforts to pilot AI?
  • How can an approach to project procurement that favours long-term value over lowest cost be incentivised?
  • How should the application of AI in the built environment sector be taught in civil engineering degree courses?

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