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Insights What is the impact of big data on civil and structural engineering?

Since the rise of industry 4.0, many sectors have experienced a radical transformation, and big data is having a huge impact. In engineering, big data is transforming the sector, creating new opportunities, from saving time to increasing efficiency and improving environmental performance. Big data allows civil and structural engineers to gain a better understanding of their products and to maximise value.

At AtkinsRéalis , we have a strong understanding of both civil and structural engineering. We work with global teams to help our clients overcome their challenges. With our experience and industry knowledge, we deliver outstanding project outcomes that set us apart from the competition. So, how is big data specifically impacting the civil and structural engineering sectors?

What is big data?

Big data is the processing of collections of enormous data sets that continue to expand exponentially. The difference between data and big data is that big data has greater volumes, variety, and velocity. Fortunately, we’re in a place where artificial intelligence and automation can gather, process, and spot trends in the data in real-time. Instead of manual inputting, searching, and trawling through data, big data makes it easy to find information and create solutions.

How to use big data in civil and structural engineering?

Net-zero building is a big target, and many organisations are looking to create sustainable developments from the outset. Civil engineers can make this goal a reality. With the use of big data, civil engineers can look to previous projects to understand their successes and pitfalls to ensure they use the smartest green techniques.

Big data can also be used for predictive analytics, which can provide information on the exact quantities of materials required, helping to reduce wastage and limit the impact on the environment. At AtkinsRéalis Lavalin, we have pledged to become net-zero carbon by 2030. Consequently, our civil engineers harness big data tools to lower energy usage and manage processes to ensure minimal waste and environmental impact.

Speed up field data

Structural engineering jobs offer growth, agility, creativity, and design, which can all be incredibly rewarding. However, in the past, structural engineers have had to handle a vast amount of field data, which can be time-consuming and take engineers away from what they do best. Now, it is possible to collate data in a more structured manner with big data. From systemising to analysing, big data makes it easier for structural engineers to prepare reports, provide technical advice and make calculations.

The benefit of speeding up field data in structural engineering jobs is that it saves time, eliminates an arguably mundane task to free up valuable resources and increase project efficiency. For those looking to grow their structural engineering careers, knowing that big data can help to support and simplify field data research can ensure that your future roles will best utilise your skills and reduce time spent trawling field data.

Set and achieve expectations

For civil engineers, another huge benefit of big data is the ability to enhance work breakdown structures (WBS) for greater client transparency. In addition, using predictive analytics on big data can help to create clear project management processes so that engineers can easily manage complex projects.

From clear, consistent mapping and real-time data retrieval, engineers can relay information to stakeholders quickly and easily. Well-managed WBS using high-level data can ensure every team member understands the expectations set and how to achieve them. This can be vital for team leaders and senior civil engineers managing a complex project or large workforce.

Utilising specialist skills

Another benefit that big data can bring to civil and structural engineering projects is utilising the skills available in the team. Predictive analytics can understand the tasks involved and the team skills available. This makes it easy to assign individuals to the right jobs. This can ensure specialist skills are available when you need them.

It also ensures minimal downtime as it is easier to determine the availability of talented civil engineers precisely when and where they are needed. In many projects, delays occur due to resource allocation, but big data analytics can help mitigate this problem with cost-effective and efficient resource allocation.

Better building information modelling

BIM is a core part of civil engineering. With big data, there is more information that can help engineers to visualise each stage. Moreover, it is possible to use past data to avoid pitfalls that other projects have made. Thanks to this wealth of data and analytics, it is possible to enhance the visualisation ability of BIM. In turn, this improves construction systems, stakeholder buy-in, and so much more. With big data and BIM, projects can be seen with greater clarity, speeding up design recommendation approval and helping projects get off the ground faster.

Take your career to the next level with AtkinsRéalis Lavalin

At AtkinsRéalis Lavalin, we’re at the forefront of innovation. This means every project we undertake will harness the latest technologies to improve the ease, efficiency and cost for our clients while enabling our team to do what they do best. If you want to be part of a forward-focused, innovative team where your expertise can shine, browse our latest civil engineering jobs and structural engineering roles or set up a job alert to receive up-to-the-minute job postings available across AtkinsRéalis Lavalin, Atkins, Faithful+Gould and Acuity.