ICE Northern Ireland looks to a digital future

ICE NI Chairman Stephen Heaney led the discussion on how advances in digital technology affect industry

ICE NI Chairman Stephen Heaney leading the discussion in W5.
ICE NI Chairman Stephen Heaney leading the discussion in W5.

On 17 October, ICE Northern Ireland brought together representatives from business, higher education and government to discuss the challenges and opportunities digitalisation is bringing to the civil engineering and construction sector.

Chairman Stephen Heaney led the lively discussion, which took place at W5 in Belfast. The roundtable also included Digital Catapult – an organisation which enables SMEs to grow faster and helps larger companies in their digital transformations.

The ever-growing and fast-changing nature of digital technologies was a recurring topic, as well as the increased need for organisations to keep pace and be adaptable. However, the roundtable also emphasised that fluency in technology cannot supersede skills in engineering and design, and that even the most efficient machines must be complemented with human judgment and expertise. They also discussed importance of not merely embracing digital transformation for its own sake, but to deliver better end results for consumers and the public.

"This collaboration with Digital Catapult is part of ICE's larger thought leadership around Digital Transformation," said Richard Kirk, Regional Director for ICE Northern Ireland.

"The meeting sparked discussion around innovation, digitisation, and cultural and technological changes – themes put forward by incoming ICE President Professor Tim Broyd. We look forward to Professor Broyd's visit in December, when we hope to continue the conversation with our Innovation Debate."

The Innovation Debate will take place on 8 December, and the topic is: 'Will cultural changes be more important than technological changes in increasing innovation in the construction industry?'