Bringing knowledge into the 21st century

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

A survey carried out by the UK’s Construction Knowledge Task Group (CKTG) has found that a third of construction practitioners just don’t have easy access to the knowledge they need. The information is there, they just don’t know how or where to access it. Our industry is knowledge-based and without it, the industry is less productive, less innovative and more likely to make mistakes.

Feedback from 299 practitioners from every part of the industry found almost two fifths did not have easy access to all the knowledge they need to do their job – quite a scary statistic considering how much responsibility our industry has. Practitioners also admitted they use less-trusted knowledge sources more frequently than more-trusted knowledge sources, with web searches and free online resources accounting for almost half of all the knowledge accessed. Less specific, traditional ‘learning’ is not as popular, which does make sense when you consider the way the industry is going. We’re moving away from traditional methods of working, so it’s only right that the way we learn and access information changes too. The industry has embraced the internet, we’re accepting new technologies and BIM is second-nature to many of us now. Data and information are finally there, we just need to make sure that knowledge is just as easily accessible. Ann Bentley, Global Board Director at Rider Levett Bucknall, and Member of the Construction Leadership Council said: “we need to bring knowledge into the 21st century and take a more collaborative and systematic approach to how it is prepared and shared” – and I couldn’t agree more.

The survey, which ran at the end of 2018, was intended to help the CKTG steer its work, improving the way industry knowledge is prepared, accessed and applied. Its members include representatives from right across the industry. They met last month and established three workstreams that will be pursued going forward:

  • How should construction knowledge be ‘tagged’ so that it is easier to identify specific types required by practitioners?
  • Could new search tools be developed to help practitioners find the knowledge they need when they need it?
  • Is it possible to co-ordinate subscriptions, sign up forms, memberships and pay walls and to make them more flexible so that it is easier to access multiple knowledge sources through one search query?

In simple terms, we just need to work out how to make the information more accessible and most importantly, make sure people know how and where to access it and it’s up to The Task Group to make sure this happens going forward. I’m keen to see how things change in the future. They seem to know what the problem is, and I trust that they know what needs to be done to solve it – only time will tell.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.