THE 2023 BENTLEY YEAR IN INFRASTRUCTURE — Going Digital Awards occurred in Singapore on October 11-12 at the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort as it had in 2021 and 2019 prior. This annual conference and awards event typically rotate between London, England, and Singapore but has also been held in other locations, like Vancouver, British Columbia.
The international focus for US-based Bentley (Pennsylvania) was clearly presented in the keynote by Greg Bentley, showing top infrastructure value and growth maintaining just above half for Asia (excluding China), China, Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) as compared to the Americas. Bentley’s Infrastructure 500 top owners were responsible for nearly USD 20 trillion with current exchange rates. This global reach, impact, and growth around infrastructure garnered much attention and mindshare worldwide for important energy, resource management, and sustainability concerns today and going forward.
ES(D)G – Empowering Sustainable Development Goals
Singapore, the host site and City State is a global leader in adaptive urban areas. It also had a prominent place in the conference as its host site and as an exemplar in its infrastructure posture.
Greg Bentley introduced Dr. Victor Khoo, the Director of Survey and Geomatics, who presented and discussed the Singapore Green Plan for the Singapore Land Authority. He described the use of the digital twin (Bentley’s iTwin) as a collective (of the entire city nation)—a 4D resource for planning and operation management that was continuously updated (since 2012) with new datasets for the best integrations from subsurface, land, air and space in a full GIS compatible and OGC/ISO compliant framework. This year, with Bentley’s iLab, the framework became an advanced interactive demonstration titled Advancing Singapore 3D Reality Mapping for a Changing World.
The conference context—Singapore—helped to frame the energy, resource management, and sustainability focus that Bentley advances its product delivery around, and this was further underscored in the keynote discussing the importance and focus of ES(D)G – Bentley’s specific combination of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the concept of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals to be Empowering Sustainable Development Goals, or ES(D)Gs.
A series of slides illustrated the emphasis Bentley’s customers and particularly the award submissions, placed on land and water resources, healthy communities, clean energy transitions, climate action and resilience, and finally, how Bentley’s ES(D)G clearly supported COP27 2022 priorities around adaptation and even presented decarbonization and climate resilience with digital solutions.
Toward Infrastructure Intelligence
Greg Bentley further presented the 2023 conference theme, Toward Infrastructure Intelligence, with multiple iterations on an acronym wrapping technology around engineering, information, and operations in ETITOT.
This concept was central in that all things Bentley Infrastructure now incorporate a digital context (OT – auto sensors), chronology (IT – maintenance history), and components (ET – infrastructure models) across a full life-cycle and, importantly, all in and through iTwin.
Focused on this core technology for Bentley, Greg also showed how integral and growing iTwin is to this strategy in the 2023 award submissions as a reflection of the evolving base of Bentley solutions and advancing infrastructure. In 2023, 35% of 302 submissions and 64% of 27 finalists relied on iTwin. This was on top of substantial 5x-7x growth in the use of iTwins Capture and Synchro in the 2023 submission from 2022.
Essential to this theme were also the top winners’ measurable gains, showing this growth as critical to infrastructure design and engineering. While this emphasis showed gains in the usage of iTwins, the direct gains by the top winners also reflected an 18% hours saved median efficiency. Greg Bentley went on to show how these direct gains in efficiency accumulate and then compound. He also showed a growing backlog of work putting firms at capacity, including a measured 23 minutes of additional work required in 2023 by Infrastructure Engineers. This illuminated the challenge faced today by the work and the solutions Bentley is offering with their tools today.
Supporting this focused emphasis on infrastructure intelligence was a series of executive appointments that were presented at the conference. Kristen Fallon joins Bentley as Chief Marketing Officer with a background at GE Healthcare with work in the area of social, environmental, and economic development work in Asia and Africa. She succeeds Chris Bradshaw, now working in a newly created Chief Sustainability Officer role. Colin Ellam, CEO of Cohesive, advancing digital integrations and enterprise asset management for Bentley. Oliver Conze joins as Senior Vice President for Bentley Infrastructure Cloud (introduced in 2022) built on iTwins to unify teams, projects, and data across design, building, and operating for full lifecycle.
New acquisitions and partnerships were also key to advancing Bentley’s Infrastructure Intelligence. Flow State Solutions adds to Seequent’s robust subsurface modeling toolset with geothermal simulation capabilities around reservoir, wellbore, and surface network optimization and well performance.
Bentley also presented Teralytics human mobility analysis capabilities with Streetlytics mobility solutions from Bentley, targeting growth in North America and Europe and as an iTwin Ventures company.
Looking forward, AI (artificial intelligence) in Bentley’s vision was presented by Greg Bentley, discussing Keith Bentley’s work on Bentley Copilot and generating the work through Github as an accessible Early Access Program publicly available testbed. This open posture, along with Bentley’s open applications platform, was further described with Copilot stewarding user data, where the goal is to improve output and the enjoyment of work through the Bentley Infrastructure Cloud while being locally trained and owned by the user for the effectiveness of local solutions.
Three main points delineated this commitment to users: (1) help derive value from all the engineering data secured in Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, (2) Maximize data for generative AI, and (3) retain all access and control of data and only “you” explicitly direct the use of data for generative AI.
The Awards, Jurying, and Innovation
There are 12 categories of Going Digital Awards, including Bridges & Tunnels, Construction, Enterprise Engineering, Process & Power Generation, Rail & Transit, Road & Highways, Structural Engineering, Subsurface Modeling & Analysis, Surveying & Monitoring, Transmission and Distribution, Water and Wastewater, and the Facilities, Campuses & Cities category.
Architosh has participated for multiple years in supporting the Bentley Year In Innovation Going Digital Awards jury work for the Facilities, Cities, and Campuses awards category. This jury work provides an additional lens into the direct ways in which innovative project approaches are being realized at a very high level.
With many great submissions this year, the finalists stood out significantly, advancing digital work in infrastructure. Two projects (the winner and the alternate finalist) exemplified the use of eco-district design with digital twins underlying constituent involvement toward maximized community advantage as a digital foundation for future development. Another finalist integrated a novel method for capturing existing development work to align with modernized code and safe housing requirements as a maintainable digital twin. The other finalist created a digital twin of port authority assets accessible to all stakeholders for advanced planning, maintenance, and operations.
The outstanding awards and the winner, VRAME, for their outstanding work on Siemensstadt Square, Berlin, provided transformative views into a near-future aspirational standard of project work, from design delivery to the stakeholders and constituents thriving through in a new advanced and innovative infrastructure.
Innovation at Bentley exhibited through the awards directly at the conference, was also exhibited and demonstrated throughout the conference at a very active iLab exhibit. Through a partnered and highly advanced digital twin view of the host site, Singapore, exemplary examples were shown around planning, sustainable energy potential and usage, transportation, construction, and water usage.
Within these rich interactive experiences, iLab leaders, Bentley executives, and attendees propelled conversations to intriguing intersections around AI, sustainability and regeneration, DfMA (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly), 4D planning and immersive workspaces, NERF, and even Guassian splatting in iTwin.
Conversations, whiteboards, and sidebars on additional work demonstrations provided substantial interactions and firsthand customer feedback loops that accentuated the GitHub and open applications mentality that Bentley is advancing its infrastructure toolset around intelligence.