Saturating the NCE shortlist

July 17, 2019

Central Alliance, an RSK company, is a finalist for three awards at the 2019 New Civil Engineer (NCE) TechFest Awards. All three entries impressed the judges and have been shortlisted in their respective categories: the Best Use of Technology: Driving Whole Life Performance Award; the Road Visionary Award; and the Team of the Year Award (all jointly entered with Utilis).

For the Best Use of Technology: Driving Whole Life Performance Award, it was Central Alliance and Utilis’s project “Saturated ground mapping using satellite synthetic-aperture radar” that earned them a place in the final. “Central Alliance has a long history of acquiring geotechnical and survey data on assets and earthworks and has recently worked on many major landslide failures on transportation infrastructure,” explains Central Alliance joint managing director Richard Pidcock. “This was the driver for the development of this application and development of the analysis for saturated ground mapping. Utilis analyses satellite radar imagery to detect leaks for water companies using technology that is used to find water on other planets. Central Alliance and Utilis are now combining their experience and applying this same satellite technology to map relative ground saturation at a higher resolution than ever before. Engineers can use this information to identify potential third-party impacts on infrastructure, geotechnical instability and drainage issues such as non-functional or inadequate drainage.”

In the Road Visionary category, Central Alliance demonstrated its commitment to innovation in the pre-construction industry through the creation of a new division, Central Alliance – Applied Technologies. “Through this division, Central Alliance sets out to identify the challenges faced within ground investigation, survey and remote sensing and subsequently address those challenges,” details Sean Blaney, Central Alliance technical manager. “One of the innovations that the new division has worked on is the satellite derived saturated ground mapping, which is shortlisted for the Driving Whole Life Performance Award.”

The third shortlisting is for the Team of the Year. Central Alliance hopes that its close collaboration with technology company Utilis in the satellite technology project detailed above will win the judges over. Richard elaborates: “The team comprises engineers, surveyors and technical experts from Central Alliance, based in the UK, who have first-hand experience of industry challenges, and Utilis who have research and development analysts and Synthetic Aperture Radar experts based in Rosh Haayin, Israel.”

The next stage of the awards process is the face-to-face judging over two days later this month. Finalists will have 15 minutes to present their entries and then face a 10-minute question and answer session with the judges. Nominees for the Driving Whole Life Performance Award will present live to the judges at the TechFest event on 26 September.

“It has been a fantastic year for entries; the diverse range across all categories demonstrate the inspiring innovations being driven across the industry,” commented award organisers. “Thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to all those who have made the shortlist.”

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 26 September at The Brewery, London, UK. The awards are just one part of the NCE TechFest and billed as “an immersive gathering of the brightest minds in civil engineering”. The Festival responds to the industry’s need to support and encourage innovation and addresses its biggest technology challenges and stimulates opportunities for innovation. Throughout the day, delegates can partake in inspiring keynote talks, fireside chats, competitions, live shortlist pitches and take advantage of networking opportunities.