Deployment of VO and Assessment of Effectiveness

According to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle (TALC), truly discontinuous innovations require the end user to dramatically change their past behavior, with the promise of gaining equally dramatic new benefits. Thus the deployment strategy associated with Objective 4 must acknowledge that engineers have a long-standing investment in the older paradigm and will not adopt a new paradigm without seeing dramatic improvements in capabilities. The majority will initially be risk adverse, but will eventually follow the crowd, provided a sufficient momentum from early adopters or risk takers. Thus no new paradigm can hope to bring this entire population to the technology at once and instead must begin by seeding the concept with the community’s visionaries, who in turn become references for the pragmatists within the community. Once an innovation has reached a critical mass, the technology has the capability to become a standard, and with enhanced reliability and ease of use, the paradigm will diffuse.


Rapid Research to Practice Case Study

The TALC model suggests that in order to create a critical mass the new paradigm must not only begin with visionaries but narrow this further to a niche area and develop a fully-functional yet scalable prototype for that group. Such a niche group should (1) include persons who are innovators within the Civil Engineering community, and whose use of technology is driven by the complexity of the projects they address, and (2) focus on a sector that is currently ill-served by the design state-of-the-art. The niche that best meets these criteria is the tall buildings community which embraces high level analyses on complex systems, has been attempting to semi-automate their work flows due to a lack of support by industry standards, recognizes the value of technology in establishing competitive advantage, and already engages limited segments of the crowd through collaborative research with academia. Therefore, the first integrated design chain will be developed for this niche area and is schematically demonstrated in Figure 5. This design chain requires a number of resources associated with wind hazards, which  govern the design of most tall buildings and have already been pooled by the PIs through an NSF-funded prototype collaboratory called VORTEX-Winds, supported by over a dozen leading universities, firms and laboratories worldwide. This brings not only a viable core of Citizen Engineers and communal computational resources to the VO immediately, but also the industry-academic partnerships essential to speed innovations from research to practice. More importantly, as shown in Figure 5, the tall building niche within the civil engineering community contains tasks that range from fully crowd source-able (brainstorming system concepts for an architectural form) to selectively crowd source-able (wind-induced response sensitivity analysis).


The beta-testing partners, discussed further in the Coordination Plan at the end of this document, include three leading firms involved in all facets of tall building design and construction. Their stature within the community brings a level of respect and trustworthiness that will get the attention of other firms, allowing OSD-CI to reach a critical mass for a paradigm shift sooner. Of equal strategic importance to this effort will be partnering with those whose products are the current market standard to ensure that the framework is interoperable with their platform. For this reason, partnerships with Autodesk, which holds the majority market share in BIM software, has already been secured by the PIs. With the provision for interfacing with BIM, there is potential for transformative and rapid technology transfer to practice.