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Workshop on Linked Building Data Attracts a Diverse, International Crowd

10/14/2019

When Infotech partnered with the University of Florida to host a workshop about linked building data, one question gnawed at the back of my mind - would there be enough interest? After all, construction technology is a burgeoning but relatively niche field, and even in a state that builds like no other, I worried about attendance.

Of course, I shouldn’t have worried - wherever there’s a complicated, niche subject, there’s a host of passionate minds who have made it their specialty. At the end of September, about 50 academics and industry experts from UF, Berkley, Michigan Tech, Florida DOT/Turnpike, Trimble, Siemens, the Construction Specification Institute, HNTB, and Infotech gathered from within this niche line of work to attend the inaugural North American Workshop on Linked Building Data (WLS).

For the last seven years, a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) European model for the future of information exchange and interoperability has grown in popularity. Finally, someone thought to ask: “What if we brought a model like that to the United States?” From there, the idea for the WLS Workshop was born.

Since the early days of science fiction, our future has been depicted as a world full of flying cars and friendly robots. That future has to start somewhere. On a deeply technical level, the future we imagine is inherently linked to the topics discussed at a data workshop like this one. For example, over the course of the two and a half days, we examined Blockchain, BIM, digital twins, autonomous and connected vehicles, and the Internet of Things, to name a few. Given the frenetic pace of technological evolution, we saw that those futurist ideals are not actually far off - they just might look a little different than people expect.

Navigating the many disparate, fast-emerging technologies is no easy feat, but when everyone speaks the same language - the language of data integration - the obstacle of creating a seamless process becomes an exciting challenge. This workshop was highly interactive and the diverse attendance brought academia, owners, and industry together in the interest of innovation and progress.

Adding our own personal Infotech-touch to the workshop, we included a miniature hackathon, a coding challenge designed to produce a product or process in an expedited time period. Valuing this model of learning and innovation, Infotech hosts a full three-day employee hackathon every October, with results that continue to make an impact for our customers and to our daily operations. With so much success within our company, I was curious about what could come from a brainstorm that invited some of the best minds in this area to participate. In the end, we discovered the only way to true success for linked building data standardization is through commitment, transparency, diversity, and collaboration.

As we continue to make innovation a top priority at Infotech, we welcome partnerships with organizations seeking to answer questions about the unknown. What can we explore together?

Authors

Monelle McKay
Director of Strategic Initiatives for AASHTOWare Products
Monelle McKay has 30+ years of experience in construction management software development and working with Departments of Transportation. In her current role as Director of Strategic Initiatives, she enjoys working with our customers and business partners to deliver innovative solutions for today’s challenging business needs
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