Elections over, but will it be Time for Infrastructure? - 04/05/2015


Infrastructure and particularly transportation are issues that should concern us all, says Chris Preston, chair of RICS Geomatics Professional Group.

By the time you read this those of us in the UK will have returned to our post-election stupor and wondering what effect the new government will have on the matters that have impact on our lives.

It always surprises me that the issues that are in the politicians’ minds at polling time are rarely one of the matters that concern us all, namely transportation. Apart from different political parties having a policy of pro or anti HS2 (High-speed railway project in the UK linking London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds) little is headline grabbing. So it really is time for infrastructure to take centre stage as we all want better accessibility and less congestion allowing us to move around when we need to. Of course, such a paradigm shift of policy costs huge sums of money and after all, we all think we pay enough taxes as it is. The Institution of Civil Engineers has been stating the case for new infrastructure and upgrades for many years and it is only right that we welcome them within the sponsoring bodies of GEO Business and we must support them in their quest to bring this to the public’s and government’s attention.

At the recent ICES BIM event it was instructive that when a show of hands was asked for, to see who had read the BS1192 documents, that only a few had. Whether we like it or not, BIM is a subject that is not going to go away and we owe it to ourselves as well as those that follow us in the profession to be at the table for this. There is a working group Survey4BIM that is part of the government task group who are working on producing guidance and material of particular relevance for surveyors. The documents are starting to take shape and I know that the Chair of this group, Ian Bush would welcome your thoughts on what is being done (http://www.bimtaskgroup.org/survey4bim/).

Monitoring: Human Sense Still Needed

Another conference on ground engineering and monitoring was fascinating in that it brought home to me how rapidly the technology available to measure structures and especially tunnels has moved on. With the advent of CrossRail and the likelihood of HS2 and even CrossRail 2 needing a large number of tunnels, the need to monitor those areas around them will be of ever greater importance. The miniaturisation of sensors and their capability to be daisy-chained, use Bluetooth and wireless connections to a hub means that far fewer cables are needed, removing one of the major sources of communication failure.

The use of laser scanning to identify stresses and strains and video monitoring of structures under moving loads, have all highlighted the advances in the measurement technology available. Moreover, though, there is still a place for simple devices such as that using overlapping concentric circles over cracks, showing moiré fringes when movement occurs. These can be photographed using a digital camera to provide a record of change over time. However, the fundamental question of absolute or relative monitoring and data overload are issues to be overcome. Client organisations will also not want to be notified of all apparent trigger changes automatically, without some form of human sense checking. I am sure this is something GW will be returning to in the future.

Timing is the Thing. . .

As all-encompassing as Geomatics is, I am sure that not many of you feel that Greek Gods have much to do with it. A recent article I read in none other than Radio Times raised the idea of the two Greek Gods of time. There is Chronos, the Greek god of time that is absolute and linear. Whereas when we feel tired and go to bed without clock watching it is as a result of qualitative or Kairological time – Kairos. This time is the spirit of the moment, time elastic and lively, the moment of insight and art. So perhaps poor total station or GNSS readings are due to the influence of Kairos?

As ever your thoughts on any of this are welcomed to the usual e-mail address.

This article was published in Geomatics World May/June 2015

Last updated: 28/11/2020