Designing Buildings Wiki research: Construction industry must ensure practitioners have access to critical knowledge

DBW Fit for Purpose document coverAnalysis of 6 million pieces of data by Designing Buildings Wiki (DBW) – host partner of the IHBC’s Conservation Wiki – has revealed that the knowledge framework underpinning the construction industry is no longer fit for purpose as practitioners do not have easy access to critical knowledge, and inevitably make some mistakes.

DBW writes:

Designing Buildings Wiki, the construction industry knowledge base, has undertaken the first ever comprehensive mapping of construction industry knowledge. The startling results have been published today in a major new report ‘Fit for purpose? Big data reveals the construction knowledge gap’. The report includes a series of remarkable visual maps giving never-before-seen insights into how construction knowledge works and where it fails.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The industry is lacking the strategic leadership needed to coordinate the creation and dissemination of knowledge.
  • The emergence of the internet has fundamentally changed the way practitioners access knowledge, but the industry has not kept up.
  • Knowledge that is difficult to understand, buried in long documents or locked behind pay walls will not be used – even if it is critically important.
  • Practitioners need accessible, practical, easy-to-use guidance to help them carry out everyday activities.

In the wake of the Edinburgh schools defects and the fallout from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the report suggests the industry needs to get organised and stop leaving the dissemination of knowledge to chance – or more mistakes will be made.

Designing Buildings Wiki chairman, David Trench CBE FCIOB said: ‘A lot of construction knowledge published at the moment is niche research aimed at making the top performing 1% of the industry better. But it is leaving the other 99% to fend for themselves. It is well established that construction performance in the UK lags behind other industries and other countries, this report gives some clues about why this is and what could be done to turn things around.’

Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy and author of ‘Modernise or Die’ said: ‘The concept of open data networks and the increasing democratisation of data and knowledge were concepts I explicitly referenced in my recent review of the construction industry ‘Modernise or Die’. The findings of this report reaffirm that current knowledge and innovation is not being captured in a way that is broadly and strategically accessible to enable industry at large to benefit. Knowledge & data ‘silos’ are a feature of our industry and we clearly need to break these open through more collaborative forums and platforms that have greater reach into the mainstream of our industry. The assertion that much academic work is not influencing industry’s improvement is one that I identify with and we need a step up in the vetting of what research is commissioned that has sufficient applied value for the wider industry rather than specialist interest groups that does not necessarily make it relevant or scalable.’

For more information contact Gregor Harvie: email gregor.harvie@designingbuildings.co.uk or phone 07803 906 129.

DOWNLOAD the full report and high resolution images

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