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Environment Agency Karen Alford talks digital transformation in ICE Knowledge Podcast

last modified May 24, 2019 10:37 AM
The process of digitising assets and increasing importance of data curation and sharing is discussed in an Institution of Engineers (ICE) Knowledge Podcast featuring Karen Alford, Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the Environment Agency, specialising in asset data and information.

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Reflecting on the Environment Agency’s digital journey, Karen talks about creating and managing data across the whole life of an asset and the digital landscape three years after government mandate of BIM Level 2. 

“I was a member of the BIM working group and as a government mandated organisation we had to implement BIM Level 2 which I see as very much the foundations for digital working. Three years on BIM is becoming business as usual and more clients beyond the mandated sectors are looking at what they need to do to join in. What I’m seeing is recognition of the need for consistency.”

Bringing focus to the benefits of the digitalisation of asset management, Karen considers the value of analytics that enable asset management teams to access the latest data about the performance of an asset on a daily basis. Good curation and management of data is crucial: “To get confidence in the outputs we need to be controlling the inputs.”

Discussing preparations for a National Digital Twin, including work by the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) and the publication of the Gemini Principles, Karen says: “In reality our physical assets work together, they are aligned. But the data are managed independently. For me the Digital Twin is about recognising that, as well as the physical assets working together, we need the data and information to work together. Ultimately we can share and exchange information to gain better knowledge about asset performance and the environment it sits within.”

Listen to the ICE Knowledge Podcast here.

Karen Alford has written a thought leadership article for the CSIC Annual Review 2019 that publishes in June, ahead of the International Conference on Smart Infrastructure and Construction held on 8 to 10 July. The Environment Agency is a CSIC Partner.


CSIC is an Innovation and Knowledge Centre funded by EPSRC, Innovate UK and industry. We develop cutting edge sensing and data analysis models to provide a powerful platform for delivering data to enable smarter whole-life asset management decisions, for both new infrastructure and existing assets. CSIC collaborates with partner organisations across policy, standards and industry adoption to effect transformative change, deliver benefits to all stakeholders and establish the UK as a global leader in digital construction.