David Glennon, Senior Digital Delivery Director, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), provides an update on the organisation’s digital strategy and how it is being used on its extensive hospitality project in Saudi Arabia.
Phase one of the project includes the development of 16 hotels – totalling 3,000 rooms – across various locations including coastal, desert, mountain and island. The company – and the project – focuses on hyper-luxury and sustainable development.
A key aspect of the project is to preserve the natural areas of sites where hotels are being built, as this will be a key attraction for visitors. “We’re trying to set new standards for sustainable development,” said Glennon. “The challenge for us is how do we make that accessible to everyone without damaging the environment through our activities of creating these assets.”
To achieve this, TRSDC is turning to digital delivery and technologies to develop the sites. At he same time, it is testing and putting in place the technologies required to operate hotels and manage guest experiences throughout their stay.
“The reason for digital delivery and the reason for creating the digital twin and how that feeds into smart destinations is not because that’s a nice thing to do, it’s because it’s what our product is,” he said.
TRDC has a three-phase path to digital maturity covering project-, data- and customer-centric focuses. Each runs concurrently. Digital technologies include BIM (“the platform to allow people to collaborate”) and GIS (“a cornerstone”).
The high-quality of data achieved is helping not just with construction, he said, but also with the customer-centric phase. The data centric phase is allowing TRSDC to better understand the value contained within its data, and support improved decision-making.
For the customer-centric focus, “we’re building a digital twin that then becomes the cornerstone for the smart destination”, Glennon told attendees at the Construction Technology Festival.
The ambition behind the smart destination is that it will provide guests with an enhanced and seamless experience. On arrival at the airport immigration is already cleared, bags are automatically transferred to the guests’ hotel, as the system already knows where they are staying, an autonomous vehicle transfers people to their hotel, where there is no check in as the person is expected.
“We’re trying to put some of those technologies and digital twin aspects in place during construction so that we can get some benefit of that whilst we are creating the asset but also then be the pilot [study] for smart destination,” said Glennon.
A key example is the smart workforce locator project, where TRSDC has installed technology to track more than 36,000 people and 3,000 vehicles working on sites. This project will provide learnings that can then be used in the smart destination phase to track autonomous vehicles once a destination opens. It is the largest IoT network in the Middle East, he said.
On the construction site, it allows the company to monitor and track what is happening on a project and where people are, including ensure safety on the islands, which are 20km offshore. Vehicles can be monitored to ensure they are not idling for too long, and it provides data for compliance and reporting.
“The reason that this becomes a digital twin is we have got the platform that brings all this data together. We’re collecting the sensor data [and] the data from the IoT devices. That then comes back into our platform and links with our GIS system, and in our GIS we have a lot of data based around construction. We have our information model based on the BIM data and GIS data that we’re getting in and we’re linking that with feedback from sensors onsite,” said Glennon.
Below is the audience Q&A session following David Glennon’s presentation. Also on stage for the Q&A was Rajaikepin Rajamoni, Business Head, Sobha Realty Group of Companies, who had presented on a subcontractor’s cost-effective digital transformation journey.