The age of “simplexity” for transportation infrastructure design
New players have entered the transportation market, which is now all about complex infrastructures with a challenging mix of digital technologies, embedded systems, connectivity and design creativity. In order to address the series of new challenges that the industry is facing, it is no longer possible to rely solely upon “traditional” methods. To support transportation operators through these new challenges, engineering companies now need to put forward their expertise in complex project management while having strong know-how of critical control and security systems.
New digital tools need to be incorporated to manage a project more efficiently. BIM, Building Information Modelling, is one of them. The change consists for all project stakeholders to collaborate around a central 3D model. This global approach to the construction or renovation project goes from programming to design, from consultation to implementation, to maintenance with a shared vision among all. BIM is a true revolution as it facilitates project management by ensuring the continuity of the information through the entire supply chain and the life cycle of the infrastructure. Its first virtue is to help all stakeholders identify potential misconceptions at the very early stages of a project and thus avoid heavy additional costs and delays.
Tools others than BIM are key to project managers. Among these, the Geographic Information System (or GIS), a system designed to manage and present geographical data. Its relevance is critical as it can be a powerful information tool for all stakeholders including local authorities and residents, whose potential concerns can be easily allayed thanks to GIS use. All these tools enable efficient project management: by integrating all requirements, including safety, as early as the conception phase, by optimising the tracking of modifications and interactions with the numerous stakeholders and by adapting the project to these modifications in real time. Allowing engineers to have constant visibility of the project and on its evolution while ensuring the modifications won’t impact the quality and safety compliance of the final infrastructure.
Strong know-how in critical control and security systems is another challenge for engineers. Infrastructures are more and more automated and connected in order to constantly improve the experience and safety of passengers. These new prerequisites generate more complexity in terms of embedded control and security systems as well as in terms of data security. Designing and integrating complex systems, being able to maintain them in the long term and protecting them from cyber-attacks become a vital issue for transportation infrastructures.
How to integrate new systems and technologies that will be compatible with existing infrastructures? How to keep an infrastructure that has been built to last several decades operating, while digital technologies have a much shorter life cycle? These are some of the few questions that engineering companies have to answer to support the transformation of the transportation sector.