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Experts call for curriculum review to boost tech innovations in Nigeria’s built environment

The need for sustainable development

Experts in the built environment have urged the review of the curriculum of tertiary institutions and the incorporation of technological innovations for the acceleration of a sustainable built environment in Nigeria. They made this call at the 3rd International Conference, School of Environmental Studies, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta, on October 9, 2023.

The conference, themed “Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Built Environment”, brought together academics, professionals, and stakeholders in the construction industry to discuss the challenges and opportunities of adopting innovative technologies in the built environment.

The built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging from buildings and infrastructure to parks and gardens. It is a key factor in determining the quality of life, health, and well-being of people and communities.

According to the experts, Nigeria faces many challenges associated with lack of sustainability and innovations in the built environment, such as lack of professionalism, poor and inappropriate practices, slow pace of technology uptake, unavailability of skilled manpower, poor and sub-standard materials. These problems have led to productivity and economic losses, as well as environmental degradation and social inequity.

Experts call for curriculum review to boost tech innovations in Nigeria’s built

The experts stressed the need for promoting collaboration and synergy among built environment professionals, eliminating unhealthy rivalry, and fostering a culture of learning and innovation. They also advocated for adequate transitioning into the digital ecosystem by built environment professionals to accelerate and realise the attainment of innovative and sustainable development of the built environment.

The role of innovative technologies

One of the keynote speakers at the conference, Professor Bioye Aluko, a Professor of Estate Management at Obafemi Awolowo University, highlighted some of the innovative technologies that have improved construction processes all over the world. These include:

  • Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building. BIM enables collaboration and coordination among different disciplines involved in a building project, such as architects, engineers, contractors, and owners. BIM also facilitates design optimization, cost estimation, scheduling, quality control, and facility management.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS), which is a system that captures, stores, analyzes, and displays geographic data. GIS can be used for various applications in the built environment, such as land use planning, urban development, environmental impact assessment, disaster management, and infrastructure maintenance.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is a branch of computer science that deals with creating machines or software that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. AI can be applied to various aspects of the built environment, such as design generation, structural analysis, construction monitoring, defect detection, and energy efficiency.
  • Internet of Things (IoT), which is a network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies that enable them to communicate and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. IoT can be used to create smart buildings that can automatically adjust to changing conditions and user preferences, such as temperature, lighting, security, and entertainment.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), which are technologies that create immersive and interactive experiences by overlaying digital information or images on the real world or creating a simulated environment. AR and VR can be used for various purposes in the built environment, such as visualization, simulation, training, education, and entertainment.

The way forward

Professor Aluko noted with concern the slow uptake of these innovative technologies by the various built environment disciplines in Nigeria relative to what obtains in the developed world. He attributed this to lack of technical know-how and capacity for usage, government support among others.

He therefore urged built environment professionals to invest in these technologies and improve upon their capacity to seamlessly deploy them. He also called on the government to enable the deployment of these technologies in the built environment by formulating appropriate policy framework for their acquisition, training and usage. He also suggested incentives for professions and organisations using these technologies in their operations.

He further recommended the review of the curriculum of tertiary institutions and the incorporation of technological innovations for the acceleration of a sustainable built environment. He said this would equip graduates with relevant skills and competencies to meet the demands and challenges of the 21st century.

He also noted the absence of a unified agency for coordination of professionals with varying interest and tasks in the built environment that makes the development of a unified and centralised government agency expedient.

He concluded by saying that adopting innovative technologies for sustainable built environment would not only enhance productivity, quality, and efficiency, but also reduce environmental impact, cost, and waste.

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