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East Midlands Great Debate discusses AI in the built environment

East Midlands Great Debate
Speakers line up at the East Midlands Great Debate

The East Midlands Great Debate in November brought together six of the UK’s leading professional bodies, including CIOB, to discuss key issues around AI in the built environment.

Over 130 attendees at the event, hosted by Nottingham Trent University, enjoyed panel discussions chaired by Andrew Knight from RICS.

The discussion was kicked off by Sammy Woodford, conservation and design officer at Cumberland Council, followed by Jaina Valji, architect and founder at Copy and Space, Gareth Parkes, head of data and analytics at Sir Robert McAlpine, and Mark Enzer OBE, strategic advisory director for Mott MacDonald.

Speakers responded to questions including ‘Will AI take my job?’ and ‘How should we approach industry ethics, regulations and guidelines?’ The discussion also focused on how implementing AI can improve outcomes for sustainability solutions. 

Parkes said: "As AI revolutionises the built environment, its success hinges on harnessing good quality data, fostering collaboration and championing skills and knowledge transfer, all while upholding ethical principles.”

Other key takeaways included:

Success will always depend on the quality of data and collaborative data sharing. 

  • The need to find a common language across the industry.
  • The industry needs to show a willingness to adopt and invest in the technology to drive it forward.
  • The need for improved education and upskilling the workforce. AI will automate many tasks but also create new and exciting opportunities.
  • Reducing the need for human intervention poses a risk by limiting opportunities to practise good decision-making and ethical judgements. As technology advances, the way we approach and solve problems will change.
  • How will we know the technology is working? By delivering better outcomes.
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