Using the Past for the Present and Future: DTS Position Statements

Without further adieu we present our position statements as a result of our DTS 2017 discussions. 


Over the past twenty five years, the architecture, engineering and design professions have changed significantly.  Demands are greater.  Deliverables are more detailed.  Timelines are shorter.  There are increasing numbers of specialists involved in our projects, adding to the complexity of a deeper level of coordination, and requiring familiarity with a wider range of subject matter.   


Historically, technology has assisted us incrementally with these challenges, but, as the pace of change increases, so must our willingness to evolve how we work, and the pace at which we do so. 


We believe the AEC industry is poised for modernization.  The pressures and expectations placed on firms have reached a critical threshold.  Technology has successfully assisted other parties in the AECO team, and it has the capacity to assist us as well, in significant ways.    


As practitioners and technologists, we have often been the ones called on to help our organizations find opportunities to modernize.  DTS brings us together to share our experiences and knowledge, and identify opportunities to improve.  It is from this background- and in this spirit – that we offer five areas of consideration that can positively impact practice:  


Lightweight Interfaces 
Our future employees and even the youngest generation in practice now are acclimated to touch based, intuitive interfaces and applications that are generally geared to specific tasks or functions. These modern tools and user experiences must also be prepared to be used with display and interaction technology which only today is being explored, researched and experimented with. 


Full Adoption of Model Based Workflows 
The elimination of traditional documentation or processes (ie drawing based delivery and quantification) will not come overnight nor; do we expect that it will be easy. We do believe that there are many avenues that design and technology companies can increasingly explore that can help the industry move in the direction of a true model based design, delivery and construction workflow. 


 Knowledge Capture, Management & Dissemination Platform 
While there are a variety of platforms available for knowledge management we have yet to see the development of something that easily captures latent knowledge and provides useful, contextual information. While “web” technologies have streamlined access to information and knowledge, and videos make it easier to disseminate and consume, the reality is that knowledge capture and dissemination is still rooted in the same techniques that were used to write manuscripts and books. In the same way that more people are becoming comfortable with the concept of an AI assistant at home like Alexa or Google Assistant we need similar learning assistants in our workplaces. Intelligent assistants that can learn our routines and ingest our design and business data to provide useful feedback will be the next major shift in how knowledge is captured and managed. 


Technology for improved quality of life (of designers and end users) 
Often times it is easy for all of us, including technology companies, to focus on improving workflow and information exchange; while pains may be taken to ensure the user interface and experience are improved, those advancements do not necessarily translate to improvements in the users’ quality of life. We advocate greater emphasis on improving day-to-day experiences, either directly through a tool, or as a result of it. 


Application Behavior/Performance 
Design applications must provide fluid and dynamic performance for our end users. This includes taking advantage of advancements in processing power– for example, multi-threaded, multi-core Central Processing Units and Graphical Processing Units. And as mobile technologies become increasingly pervasive in the office and on the job-site, cloud storage and processing options should be at a minimum as reliable and robust as local or server based storage. 


If any of these statements resonate with you and you would like to be a part of the discussion, please register your interest in the event to be approved to attend! We can’t wait to see you there.

DTS 2018!

Greetings! As we near the opening of registration for DTS 2018, I’m happy to announce that we will be releasing our position statements as an outcome of DTS 2017. It’s taken a bit longer than we had hoped to get there, but the statements have helped to form the basis of how we will be running DTS 2018.


The document we will be making public is intended to be a starting point for further development and comes from last year’s extensive list of, topics, ideas, areas of concerns, challenges and opportunities, which left the committee with our own challenge of “what do we do with this”, “how do we make it presentable or useful”. In the end we decided the best thing to do was to attempt to aggregate the details into several general ideas or themes. The five high-level topics we developed are:


  • Adoption of Model Based Workflows
  • Knowledge Capture, Management & Dissemination
  • Improving the Quality of Life of Our Staff, End Users, Designers
  • Lightweight Interfaces
  • Application Behavior & Performance


In attempting to decide what our topics for 2018 would be, we realized that we had a readymade list to pick from! DTS 2018’s primary areas of discussion will be the first three topics and we plan to use the more detailed list of sub-topics as a means to moderate and lead the discussion. We believe the last two topics are better suited to be addressed more directly by the software and technology industry with input from DTS and other groups. To that end we also welcome technology vendors and technology consultancies who think they might have something to say on any of the topics to register their interest in participating in DTS.


Please look for the official release of our full position statement document on our Design Technology Leaders website later this week (monitor the hashtag #RTCDTS).


We hope that you will strongly consider joining us in 2018 to continue the conversation and help us further refine our ideas to be shared with the community at large. Registration is scheduled to open next week, and in the meantime you can email us to register your interest in the event.

Innovate or Die

It’s a statement that gets thrown around every once in-awhile and was perhaps more in vogue historically than in current memory. Interestingly enough it comes from the title of a book “Innovate or Die : A Personal Perspective on the Art of Innovation” by Dr. Jack Matson; almost ten years earlier there was another book “Grow or Die” by George Land. Was the second influenced by the first; perhaps Land was a C-level business consultant putting forward a hypothesis around the nature of all things, organic, humanity, commerce being linked intrinsically around basic rules related to growth. You either grow, or die. Whereas Matson’s thesis was fail quickly and fail often as a means to be successful. Most interesting, Matson is an engineer by training, how many engineers do you know that go around preaching to their employees “we should fail on figuring out how to make this building stand-up”.

I’m being a bit facetious of course, arguably we fail every day as part of the process of designing a building or at least architects do, and I think the most successful engineers take a similar iterative approach. It’s far better for us to fail “on paper” than in the real world and undoubtedly Matson knew that when he wrote his book. We even try our hardest to fail in the real world before full construction by way of mock-ups, physical and now more and more virtual, with virtual reality gear and everything.

Obviously (if you’ve been reading any of our blog posts) you know by now that DTS’ theme this year is innovation and I think we’ve put together some really great topics to anchor our discussions (see our site for a full agenda). If we are by our nature innovative in our profession, that is attempting to fail until we find the right solution, what does that mean to us, to technology? Are we guaranteed to evolve? Are there consequences if we do not? Are there consequences for not being broadly innovative, so for example being “innovative” in how a project is designed, but failing to be innovative about the process that results in the design. Must you have both to be successful long term or can the innovation only happen in the results of practice and not the practice itself?

Practice itself is an interesting term unto itself, we “practice architecture” (or engineering, or law, or medicine) does the etymology itself imply Matson’s title? If we are always practicing, then do we ever compete, do we ever finish the race and what does that imply or mean in the context of innovation?

Are you scratching your head yet? If you are, then you belong with us at DTS in Toronto! We have a few spots left and we’d love to fill them. Please consider applying to attend through our registration process, if you’re keen to think hard and talk about what all this means and more then you belong with our group!

So what are we talking about?…

Valid question! For a variety of reasons the committee did not finalize our agenda until just recently and we do apologize for that. We’ve discussed quite a bit in our blog posts sense January about the ideas of Innovation and why we think it really is an important discussion topic, but it is also quite nuanced and, in order for us to have useful discussions about “Innovation” then we really need to make sure we’re focused!

So, what will our focus be? Glad you asked, here are our program highlights; once again totaling nearly ten hours of discussion in a day in half!

  • Welcome to Innovation! What is it (really)? – An opportunity to discuss what innovation is to each of us and, hopefully, come to consensus on how we define it for Design Technology.
  • What are they doing…? – A look at innovations in other industries and how we could apply or learn from them.
  • Ghosts of Innovations Past & the Future – What innovations have we seen in the past and how can we use that recognition to anticipate the future?
  • Technology & Innovation: In a relationship or just friends? – Design Technology and the platforms we have available to us have both advanced significantly and perhaps not at all. In any case we can “do” a lot more than we could a decade ago so why aren’t we happy? What do we need to innovate or where is Innovation required?
  • What should we be doing to help shape the future of our practice? – We’ve spent nearly a day discussing innovation in our industry, its past, its present and possible future; what does all of that potentially mean to people like “us” i.e. Design Technologist’s. What is/will our role be in the future as technology changes/ improves.

If you’re picking up on a Dicken’s theme, you’re not mistaken, in our discussions over the last six months and looking at research done by others I think it’s clear that in order to look to the future we do need to understand the past, in addition we must understand our place relative to innovation, technology and what we mean by those terms in the first place.

We still have a few seats left (call it ten) and we’d love to fill them. If you think innovation is important to the progress of Architecture & Engineering then you should join us! Attendees of BILT will receive a Multi-event discount.

Are you a technology company working in the AEC sphere? Trying to attract attention? Want to show your support of Design Technologists and how important it is for us to have a forum for open and honest communication, then talk to us about sponsorship opportunities, we have something for every level.

Regardless, need help? We’re only an e-mail away at secretary AT rtcevents DoT com

See you at DTS & BILT NA

Innovation + Plus One?

If we operate from the perspective that “true” innovation is something that is new “in the world” and has a significant impact, then it’s fair to say that most of us as individuals are not likely to reach what is a very high bar. That is just the realist in me talking, I’m not suggesting we should sulk away, giving up on any hope of being creative or coming up something new. Holding that goal in our eye is only likely to make us more successful rather than less (in my opinion). So, if alone we are not likely to meet that rather high bar, what are we to do (by the way, someone will, and if you don’t try, it won’t be you)? One of the first things we can do is look at organizations or people who have met that bar, and perhaps even seek their opinions and thoughts. Continue reading “Innovation + Plus One?”