Just off the heels of McGraw Hills ENR Futuretech shindig here's a few thoughts. I guess this is my 4th among 50 or so other conferences I've attended. If you haven't been, I recommend it among the advertisement neutral events in the AEC industry. They have one on the West Coast and the East. If you can't make it because your abroad, I'm pretty sure at some point they post the presentations, so here's the event site: http://www.construction.com/events/2013/FutureTechSF/default.asp
Generally, there's a lot of BIM talk, which makes sense in the context of the case studies they find that are driving its adoption. Also because BIM is generally perceived as a centralized container for at least the start of all building life cycle information. It was also great to see so many examples focused on Cloud. While this primarily focused on Documents and the use of web service API's for connecting the built planet, references to the NIST cloud definition were ubiquitous whether or not intentional. Whether its from BIM &Cloud basics or any other information source, there's some cool stuff heading our way.
One of the most profound discussions to me was around 3D Printing of buildings. I was originally turned on to BIM beyond the model and 3D printing from my industry friend Jordan Brandt during his Harvard/Horizontal Glue days (now Autodesk 360 Glue). We'd never talked about printing buildings though. Enter CRAFT, the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies from USC. Although they have vision far beyond track housing, the impacts of this for impoverished people alone are mind blowing. So if this is new to you, go check out the CRAFT site @ USC. Nothing short of amazing.
Probably second most profound to me was a chat with Cisco. That's right, the switch people. In case you aren't aware, they make devices that manage a boat load of Internet traffic via IP addresses. From a fundamental "Infrastructure" view, they do in fact connect a large portion of the inter-webs. They talked about connected and smart cities, vs. just buildings. Essentially connecting everything with an IP address. They've just come off a prototype with IBM to make their facilities more efficient. Now it's on to entire cities. Good stuff.
Aside for sessions there was a good exhibitor contingent with probably 40 or more exhibitors. The general sessions generated a lot of good conversation beyond the normal product pitch banter. It's nice to theorize a bit with our clients product vendors from this perspective. We really enjoyed all the talk on centralizing, connecting, integrating, and beyond as our company is in the business of stitching, so to speak.
To round it out, we had an hour chat with the ENR editorial crew, where we were able to give some feedback, a bit of info on our perspective, and field some interesting discussions with their staff. The most notable, but simple questions being...Everyone says the [AEC] industry must change to survive. Do you think all this technology will help do that? My answer...I think their are certainly issues beyond technology, but there must be at least 20/30% improvement possible from reduction of errors caused by communications and low quality information alone.
What do you think?
(Published from 35k feet en route to Florida)