The global engineering firm Aurecon has set up a regional centre of excellence for digital engineering in Singapore. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the new facility serves as an extension of the company’s Digital Futures team. It is the first of its kind for Aurecon and is dedicated to solving client challenges with emerging digital technologies and alternative business models.
“The engineering and construction industry is not spared from digital disruption, which is changing the way we work and live. The decision to extend the Digital Futures team into Asia was driven by increasing regional demand for digital transformation in the building and construction sector,” said Paul Lombard, Aurecon’s managing director for Middle East and Asia. “Singapore’s strategic location places our new centre of excellence at the epicentre of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and within touching distance of North Asia.”
Referencing Singapore’s Smart Nation push, Mr Lombard further mentioned that the country’s “openness to embrace innovation and its willingness to be a testbed for new ideas” make it an ideal base for the centre.
Aurecon plans to invest S$3 million over the next three years and will focus on three areas: artificial intelligence and data analytics; the Internet of Things (IoT); and visualisation & digital collaboration. Each area of focus will have a dedicated digital specialist in charge of consolidating ideas and lessons to support priorities such as urban mobility and infrastructure within Singapore. Once adopted locally, these ideas may then be exported to other parts of Asia, or even the world, said Aurecon.
The new centre will be headed by Phil Lazarus, Aurecon’s digital practice leader for Asia. He pointed out that in order to succeed in the digital future, “organisations need to fundamentally rethink their planning, strategy and business processes, create connected digital platforms, and improve their analytics and collaboration.”
To deliver tangible outcomes, Aurecon has also identified four key competencies for development. The first is 3D collaborative design and BIM (Building Information Modelling) to support the coordination of construction projects. The second is based around enhancing personal and emotional connections using technologies such as virtual reality.
The third is a proprietary design collaboration and project delivery portal called GeoDocs, which allows secure file access from anywhere. The fourth is the Smart Centre, which aligns with Singapore’s Smart Nation vision and uses sensors to collect data from multiple points.
“To develop a Smart Nation, we need to reimagine engineering so as to shape and design a better future,” said Mr Lazarus. “In many ways the advancement of humanity depends on the engineering and infrastructure we create. That’s a responsibility we take seriously and it’s also something that requires some unconventional thinking.”