Generative Design Optimizes Social InfrastructureTue, 11/06/2018 - 10:03
In the last few years, the construction and engineering sectors have been promoting the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the development of infrastructure projects but Marco Vidali, Managing Partner of project management firm Rizoma, says there are even more cutting-edge technologies available. “Artificial intelligence (AI), data-driven design and metadata could help make the best of the public and private resources, and serve a greater number of people,” he says.
Generative design is half human, half computer and has the power to produce and explore thousands of concepts and then identify the best options for an optimal end-product. Vidali believes that social infrastructure is a great sector into which to begin integrating generative design technologies and processes. “These types of technologies will allow the government to analyze different sources of information such as population, trends and use of infrastructure itself to create projects that have a greater impact on communities,” he explains. “In the health field for instance, we will be able to collect data from the past 10 or 20 years to understand weaknesses and opportunities. We can then integrate that data with population and health forecasts to analyze and develop an infrastructure plan that will suit short and mid-term needs.”
One possible downside in the Mexican market is that information and recent data is hard to come by. But according to the company’s Innovation and Development Manager, Pablo Lezama, Big Data will be the motor for development in the coming years and the industry will no longer have to wait for INEGI or other entities to release data. “IoT will drastically change the quality and quantity of data available to build better projects,” he says.
Vidali explains that, although BIM has been making a breakthrough in the Mexican market, penetration has been slow. “The market has yet to understand the importance of using BIM and other technologies in projects. In our experience, few companies have seen the monetary value of adapting these technologies and why they should be made mandatory,” he says.
One of the country’s largest and most important projects, NAIM, has made BIM mandatory and is using the technology to develop the airport from the very start. Rizoma is participating in the project and believes NAIM is setting the example for future infrastructure projects. Lezama believes that in larger public projects there is a great deal of potential for transparency by using shared databases linked to BIM models.
The change in political administration has heightened speculation over NAIM’s continuation but both Lezama and Vidali believe the change will bring opportunities. This is especially true for the integration and adoption of technology and innovation and for companies that want to provide a new added value to the infrastructure industry. “AMLO’s administration seems to be welcoming technology and looks to promote transparency in the development of infrastructure projects,” says Lezama. “BIM and other technologies will be a powerful tool to decrease corruption and impunity in the development of infrastructure in Mexico.”
Another mechanism that can increase transparency is PPPs and Vidali says progress is reflected in the fact that, in the last couple of years, social infrastructure has been a very active sector, in particular the construction of new hospitals, jails and schools. Very often, these projects are carried out through PPPs and USPs. Vidali believes that it will also be a priority for the next government. “Social infrastructure allows a society to evolve. The use of schemes such as USP and PPPs allows the private sector to analyze and fund all types of opportunities in the development and construction of social infrastructure,” he says.
Technology can help bridge the country’s social infrastructure gap but both the public and private sectors must take matters into their own hands to ensure things are done correctly, according to Vidali and Lezama. “Technology could be the solution to make the construction sector more transparent. Technologizing the sector would leave less room for subversive activity,” says Vidali. Nonetheless Lezama says technology alone does not go far enough. “The public and private sectors need to remember that the end-clients are the Mexican people.”