Wednesday, October 28, 2020
World of Asphalt
Concordia digital
February 14, 2020

Concordia University leads the construction industry’s digital transformation

Although it’s still early days, the construction industry has begun to automate and digitize.

It’s also starting to use sensing technologies, big data and deep learning, among other things, and the results could revitalize our cities’ infrastructure — roads, water, power — and the way it’s managed.

Concordia is driving that transformation in Canada.

With the leadership of Osama Moselhi, a pioneer in infrastructure engineering management, the university is front-of-mind for anyone in the field.

The professor in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering is director of Concordia’s new Centre for Innovation in Construction and Infrastructure Engineering and Management (CICIEM) at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“Here at Concordia, we have a critical mass of expertise in sustainable and resilient civil infrastructure systems,” says Moselhi, who is known throughout the field for his patented use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the diagnostics of sewer defects and his work on value-driven methods for optimized asset management in this field.

“We want to be an agent of change that helps transfer the traditional construction industry into the digital age. The innovation centre, as an entity, formalizes and declares our intentions.”

The CICIEM is working with an advisory board comprised of executives from Hydro-QuébecCanam GroupHatch and SNC-Lavalin.

“These companies are visionary leaders in their fields who have influence on the entire industry,” says Amir Asif, dean of the Gina Cody School.

“We are in discussions with them now to establish their needs and discuss collaboration opportunities.”

Taxpayers have a stake

Civil infrastructure intersects with the construction industry whenever a project is approved by governments at the municipal, provincial or national level.

The CICIEM embraces the principles of Industry 4.0 — leveraging smart systems, such as remote sensing technologies and digital imaging, among other things — to improve safety, productivity and competitiveness in the construction industry.

At the same time, it wants to develop solutions to optimize municipal governments’ budget allocation for maintenance, rehabilitation and/or renewal of civil infrastructure assets.

“The goal is to develop creative methods for condition assessment and asset management that are non-destructive and non-invasive,” Moselhi says. “It all leads to cost efficiency — our tax dollars invested wisely — and better safety and productivity on job sites.”

For Moselhi, a key outcome is the protection of our collective investment in the existing infrastructure. As taxpayers, we all have a stake.

“There is a saying that politicians don’t want to spend money below ground because the public can’t see it. So we have a deficient investment in that kind of civil infrastructure,” he explains.

“But if you want to keep the same water pressure in your shower and kitchen sink, we need to continuously invest.”

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