This past week, Bentley Systems held its annual YII Year in Infrastructure and Going Digital Awards. During the two-day event, hosted in Singapore, the company also shared its vision of infrastructure design around the world and how Bentley works to advance that vision. Bentley recently updated its mission statement to read: “We empower people to design, build, and operate better and more resilient infrastructure through the adoption of our intelligent digital twin solutions,” adding in the words, “more resilient.”
One of the benefits of holding these awards each year is that Bentley has a direct line of communication with users who exemplify the most advanced designers, engineers, architects, and others who are pushing the Bentley software to their limits. The company takes advantage of this by asking important questions of the submitting designers to help guide their product development and to better understand problems users are trying to solve.
CEO Greg Bentley addresses the audience at Year in Infrastructure. Image source: Bentley Systems.
Bentley described 2023 as a “groundbreaking year” for infrastructure intelligence. In the welcoming keynote, CEO Greg Bentley cited users’ projects and highlighted how infrastructure organizations are overcoming the engineering resource capacity gap through infrastructure intelligence strategies. When asked to quantify the engineering hours saved through digital advancements, the Going Digital Awards finalists reported significant median savings of 18%. In addition, proving how digital twins are becoming more mainstream, this year those same finalists that use iTwin technologies has risen to 64% in 2023.
Greg Bentley also pointed out that many of the Going Digital Awards finalists highlighted multiple infrastructure intelligence strategies to further the value of their data. This includes reusing digital components and integrating subsurface modelling. Additionally, infrastructure intelligence incorporates operational data from IoT sensors, drones, and crowdsourcing data into digital twins. Bentley is focusing on this extension of infrastructure intelligence and how it interrelates with operational technology (OT), information technology (IT), and engineering technology (ET).
Having this event in Singapore is no accident. After infrastructure failures in the US this year, Greg Bentley was asked to meet with the US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, and with other engineering CEOs. Due to these failures, Buttigieg brought up his concern about deferred maintenance. The engineering CEOs expressed their concern about their engineering capacity constraints in regards to the Secretary’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act work for new projects. In response, Buttigieg asked if going digital and AI could help. Greg Bentley replied that “using OT, IT, and ET together with digital twins can build resilience while actually saving efforts on less warranted maintenance.”
As an example, Greg Bentley shared how Singapore has embraced technology and uses digital twin technology extensively to help make better infrastructure decisions. The country has implemented Bentley’s Assetwise to track maintenance decisions so that only necessary maintenance is carried out and problem areas are pinpointed before there are serious issues. Using this technology, Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) has been able to save resources and money, by bringing in the ET of the rail infrastructure models, the OT of the sensors from Geometry Cars to crowdsourced “accelerometers”, and the IT of the maintenance history in order to assess the results.
OT, IT, and ET all working in conjunction with digital twins allows users to save time and money. Image source: Bentley Systems.
In addition, they discussed the future of AI within infrastructure software and how using generative AI as a “copilot” (a term from Microsofts’ GitHUB) will help engineers complete more work, more quickly. The goal is to use AI to do the “boring” tasks, automating them, and to reuse data wherever possible to make work easier.
This year, Bentley shared that infrastructure intelligence strategies are leading the way on saving time and energy, including digital component reuse, integrating subsurface data, and “enliven” digital twins, meaning digital twins offering real-time details to stake holders.
Bentley’s focus this year has been one of digging deeper into the existing technology and allowing users to work smarter instead of harder. With the shortage of work force talent, Bentley believes engineers must turn to generative AI and automation to take the mundane tasks over, giving engineers and other experts time to make the big decisions. Mike Campbell, Chief Product Officer, states that, “Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, including ProjectWise, leverages infrastructure digital twins to unlock data in order to apply AI and accelerate infrastructure intelligence.”
Henry Okraglik, Global Director of Digital, WSP Australia, joined the Year in Infrastructure conference to explain the benefits WSP has had by becoming data-centric through Bentley Infrastructure Cloud. “As we’ve digitally matured, we’ve been able to embrace capabilities from Bentley Infrastructure Cloud to improve construction staging and planning, track and export quantity data across project phases, reduce the need for physical site visits, and a lot more,” said Okraglik.
According to Okraglik, using ProjectWise, SYNCHRO, iTwin, and other Bentley products, WSP was able to reduce modeling time by 60%, increase productivity by 25%, and reduce the carbon footprint by 30% on a rail network project in Melbourne.
Congratulations to all the Bentley Systems' Going Digital Awards winners! Image source: Bentley Systems.
The finishing touch to an amazing few days culminated in a beautiful ceremony to celebrate the finalists and award the winning Going Digital designs. The annual awards program honors the extraordinary work of Bentley software users advancing infrastructure design, construction, and operations throughout the world. Twelve independent jury panels, representing 12 award categories, selected the 36 finalists from more than 300 nominations submitted by 235 organizations from 51 countries—truly a world-wide event. Representatives from the finalists presented the projects to the independent judges and press and then final awards given. Cadalyst interviewed the winners of Roads and Highways, AtkinsRealis from Colorado. Watch for an upcoming article digging into this project and more.
Executive updates. Bentley also announced a few changes to its executive officer lineup. Kristin Fallon joins as Chief Marketing Officer and comes from a breadth of experience in international aid and most recently in GE HealthCare. Her predecessor, Chris Bradshaw, is taking on the newly minted role of Chief Sustainability Officer. Designing this role fits hand in hand with Bentley’s continuous drive toward software that enables users to become more sustainable.
Other appointments include Colin Ellam, who joins as Chief Executive Officer of Cohesive, Bentley’s digital integrator business. Formerly Ellam served as Global Head of Nuclear at Capgemini. He succeeds Mark Bew, who takes on an advisory role, having grown Cohesive into a global organization of more than 700 colleagues in 15 countries. Oliver Conze joins as Senior Vice President, Bentley Infrastructure Cloud. Most recently, Conze was Chief Product Officer at Customs4trade, a B2B SaaS startup automating international trade management, where he was responsible for product, technology, and operations.
Seequent grows. Seequent is Bentley’s Subsurface Company that focuses on software to manage everything below the earth’s surface. Seequent has signed an agreement to acquire Flow State Solutions, which offers a geothermal simulation software.
Watch for upcoming stories from Cadalyst highlighting the winner of the Roads and Bridges Category and also more about this year’s iLABS, from Bentley Systems, an immersive, city-scale digital twin of Singapore and its infrastructure, including multi-model representations of energy, water, transportation, and construction projects.
Lara Sheridan is Cadalyst's managing editor and has been with Cadalyst for many years, bringing her editing, writing, and design expertise to the magazine and its readership.View All Articles