Give a voice to future tech

25 June 2015

In a previous comment I wrote about ITA president Soren Eskesen's progress with bringing tunnelling to the attention of the UN bodies studying ways to mitigate the effects of flooding and other natural disasters caused by climate change. He has had some success in this, but talking about innovations and actually putting them in place are sometimes a world apart.

WTC is usually pretty good for coming across new and interesting ideas. This year the Dragon project made an effort to promote itself. The team running the project tries to encourage the purposeful use of spoil, and have had interest from major jobs such as Crossrail, but not early enough to be implemented. In previous years the Rehau system of moving water through pipes in a precast lining and taking advantage of heat differentials to generate energy has been on show.

These ideas are often a bit of a sideshow at events. But there is something the ITA could do to help.

Every year the Muir Wood lecture is held after the opening ceremony, and is understood to be a chance for a speaker to give the audience a new perspective on an old issue. The ITA statement on the Muir Wood Lecture reads: "After his death in 2009, ITA decided to create a Sir Alan Muir Wood Lecture. Each year at WTC a chosen lecturer gives [their] view on tunnelling."

And although there was nothing wrong with the lecture this year, other topics could suit the mission statement better, and benefit more from the exposure.

ITACUS exists to look at the use of underground space in innovative ways to solve the problems of the future. When their leadership attended an ITAYM event at WTC this year it was a good match.

New generations will be the engineers implementing these ideas, and will be the people experiencing the effects of climate change (and the other various problems of a rapidly increasing population) more and more.

ITACUS leader Han Admiraal also paid tribute to the ITAYM in the General Assembly at the end of WTC, saying the ITA should be proud of its enthusiastic band of rebels, and that it was heartening to meet them. A nice change from what he sees as the gradual pulling away from Underground Space concerns even in terminology. It is, after all, the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association ITACUS's activities are not always as well-known or implemented as they might be. Admiraal says it is an ongoing effort to increase the impact of the group's activities.

And if the ITA is as seriously focused on these activities, and the application of tunnelling to solve our problems as it claims, why not put ITACUS in front of the entire Congress by giving the group a Muir Wood lecture?

It suits the feel of the lecture, and suits an industry looking ever more to the future.