It’s no secret that we’re living in a time of unprecedented change. As the world around us transforms day by day, keeping pace and staying ahead is key. We asked our Partners, all leading experts in their respective fields, to identify the key factors set to disrupt our industry across the next ten years.
The first disrupter, and perhaps the most obvious one, is property technology, or ‘PropTech’. Aligning with our innate desire to find the quickest, easiest and most efficient way to do things, an inevitable ‘PropTech revolution’ is underway, modernising surveying and streamlining how we operate.
Our Partners identified a variety of innovations set to change the face of real estate in the not-too-distant future, including drones, building information modelling (BIM), smart cities, big data and artificial intelligence.
One area that stood out in particular was augmented reality and digital twins. Already widely used across manufacturing and aerospace, digital twins have endless potential when it comes to surveying and construction. The ability to create a real-time, virtual, interactive simulation of a building or site is likely to have a huge impact on the design process, health and safety, project management and development monitoring to name but a few.
Partner and area referencing specialist, Tom Pugh, reflects on the conceivable future of this kind of technology in our industry: “Wouldn’t it be great to wander around a floor plate on the other side of the world, hear the sounds of the surrounding area or feel the furniture that is in the office to make a decision whether to lease space, or track the progress of a project without physically attending site.”
Combatting climate change
The ever-present threat of climate change is guaranteed to disrupt the industry in a big way. Anne Johnstone, head of our environment, energy and sustainability service explains: “Buildings and infrastructure account for around 35% of resources globally and nearly 40% of energy use and carbon emissions.”
She advises that “forward-thinking investors must now seriously consider the potential for on-site renewables and energy storage.”
It’s clear that we’re going to see sustainability at the top of the agenda in the coming years, from the widespread adoption of sustainable building techniques to the development of technology which actively monitors and reduces buildings’ energy consumption, and it’ll certainly transform the way we do things.
Across the world, we’re seeing precipitous population growth in urban areas which is showing no signs of slowing down. As urban space becomes scarcer and demand for more living space becomes increasingly urgent, our industry will be forced to react quickly to accomodate.
Partner responsible for vertical transportation, Colin Edgar, outlines one such reaction to this: “As our cities become more densely packed, innovation in extending the life of existing installations in live buildings is an ever-evolving science.” As the emphasis shifts from the construction of new commercial properties to the modernisation of existing ones, we’re likely to see new technologies and solutions emerging around this.
Whilst rapid urbanisation makes space scarcer, the booming population means there’s also a huge demand for new living space – so we will also likely see a heavy focus on the development of construction methods that allow homes to be built quickly enough to meet demand.
Partner and head of development monitoring, Martin Kirk, points to one such method set to grow in popularity: “I truly believe that we will finally crack repeatable modular construction to build faster and more cheaply, even if this only relates to house building. There remains a huge shortage of housing and we, as a country, are falling woefully short of our target for the construction of new homes.”
Putting people first
It would be misguided to write an article about the future of our industry without mentioning the people in it. Over the coming years, we’re expecting to see a lot more being done to address human issues across the industry, such as diversity and mental health.
Jamie O’Brien, Partner responsible for our operations across Europe, is optimistic about the prioritisation of diversity: “In the future I am confident we will see more balance in terms of gender parity in the surveying world, with more women being successful in what has been a traditionally male-dominated environment.”
Mental health will also continue to be at the forefront, particularly with the increasing recognition of workspace design and placemaking as an effective way to enhance wellbeing. David McBride, Partner and head of our Manchester office, summarises: “It is quite rightly becoming an expectation that firms, and the buildings that they occupy, should support the wellbeing of their staff. This is a win-win scenario, as engaged and happy staff will help to look after a business.”