Data paves the way for infrastructure development

17 December 2018

Data analysis is helping build community consensus for large-scale projects, addressing one of the major barriers to infrastructure development.

Infrastructure technology is being deployed at all stages of construction and operation to measure the environmental impact of major projects and address community concerns.

This process is being driven by companies such as Melbourne-based EMS Bruel & Kjaer (EMS B&K) which is using infrastructure technology to provide insights through the collection and analysis of more than two billion data points a day.

"InfraTech has the potential to revolutionise the sector and reduce the time and cost associated with infrastructure development," Macquarie Capital Executive Director Patrick Sieb says.

“InfraTech companies are making it easier to get project sponsors, contractors, environmental authorities, communities and local governments pulling in the same direction," Sieb says.

Building community trust in infrastructure development

While there is a large infrastructure need around the world, projects can be stalled, or even derailed, by concerns about noise, vibration, pollution and other disruptions to community wellbeing.

Martin Adams, Chief Executive Officer of EMS B&K, which is 50 per cent owned by Macquarie Capital, says innovative technology is creating large flows of accurate real-time data, delivering insights to help project owners and communities.

“By harnessing data generated by environmental sensors, we help our clients address community concerns, meet regulatory requirements and optimise their operations," Adams says.

“Importantly, the knowledge that this data is readily available in a variety of formats helps accelerate the planning and approval process, which is when many costly infrastructure project delays occur."

Collecting data from sensors, EMS B&K uses its own cloud-based system to collect, organise and analyse more than two billion data points per day.

The company delivers information in a variety of visual formats, tailored to the needs of specific stakeholder groups.

"This has the potential to revolutionise the sector and reduce the time and cost associated with infrastructure development."

Affected communities can examine interpretations of noise or air quality data on websites, mobile apps and other channels, helping build trust and support as the project moves forward.

Many applications for data analysis

EMS B&K initially focused its data analysis on airports and Sieb says its work has had a significant impact on noise management.

“Noise data, when analysed and presented in an accessible format, can help project managers understand whether agreed noise levels are being breached and what times of day might be most suitable for peak activity," he says.

“Similarly, we use data on flight patterns to help airport authorities schedule incoming and outgoing flights more precisely and reduce the occurrence of runway delays."

EMS B&K has experienced rapid growth and has expanded its offering to include other major urban construction projects as well as large-scale exploration and mining operations. By monitoring construction projects, the company helps builders operate longer hours and work in high density areas. Managing noise and vibration also helps prevent damage to nearby buildings. Similarly, EMS B&K works with mine operators to maintain air quality and stay within compliance guidelines.

The company provides environmental monitoring services for transport, energy and utility companies and has taken on environmental monitoring responsibilities for cities such as Madrid and Beijing.

“The technology we use is highly dynamic," Adams notes. “As we obtain more and more data, we are employing artificial intelligence to interpret the data and to gain new insights from the information we collect."

"By building community consensus, improving regulatory accountability and optimising operations, data analysis is helping lower barriers to completion of important infrastructure projects," Sieb says. "The need for infrastructure is great and companies such as EMS B&K help operators do more with the assets they have."