Welcome to the Keystone Column. This week we look at Amsterdam’s dynamic sharing economy, the innovation principle and why it should be adopted in Ireland and the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in construction. As usual, we conclude with our weekly list of current Irish public tenders.
Amsterdam aims to use the Sharing Economy for good
In 2015 Amsterdam was made the first European Sharing City. Since then, there has been a push across a wide array of initiatives, to get the citizens of the city to own and drive the sharing principles. The Sharing Economy is based on an understanding that cities need to strive to become more sustainable as entities. Not everyone needs a car every day, parts of houses are often unused, sometimes people just need to borrow something practical from nearby but don’t know their neighbours.
Peerby, the granddaddy of Dutch sharing platforms allows people borrow items from neighbours (listed assets are worth about $1bn) often for free, ParkFlyRent allows cars parked in an Airport to be used while their owners are away, while Djeepo allows people to rent storage space in attics, bedrooms etc. for their belongings.
Amsterdam is focused on trying to develop stronger communities through these initiatives. These are all strong and clever uses of procurement techniques and demand satisfaction through existing assets – ultimately enabling the citizens to lead more sustainable lives.
The role of Building Information Modelling in Ireland’s construction plans
Building Information Modelling or BIM is not new. It is however seen as an antidote (or possible countermeasure) to expenditure overrun on major construction projects. Ireland’s National Develop Finance Agency (who raise money to fund large capital programmes e.g. PPPs) have insisted on its use for several years. It is being used on the National Children’s hospital and other major projects.
Proponents of this approach, like David O’Brien of the Construction Procurement Policy Unit in the OGP have been speaking of its merits recently. He states that the objectives of BIM are to provide cost certainty on award, timely delivery and value for money on construction projects. The ideas is to define projects very well and then manage risks through the development of the project.
While many of the problems with major capital projects like the National Maternity Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital are down to politics, it is hard to find too many examples of capital programmes that have met the three goals BIM is meant to help achieve. There are examples of it being deployed effectively in road development but fewer in the more complex area of brownfield site development like that required for these two hospitals.
Unless there are specific incentives or disincentives to curb use of the “change control” process through which project costs can escalate after the tendering stage (i.e. the cost that won the project), it is difficult to see how BIM will generate the benefits it purports to offer on complex projects. It undoubtedly constitutes a best practice when it is understood by the buyer and deployed effectively by the supplier. Perhaps ensuring there is independent buy-side advice on such engagements might lead to enhanced control and oversight where buyers lack knowledge and experience. This again constitutes a best practice and is not a systematic feature of such programmes.
The innovation principle – Regulatory Impact Assessment Dimension
An interesting article appeared this week in the London Times by Conservative Peer, Viscount Ridley. It is an open letter to George Freeman MP, Chairman of the UK’s policy board and a former biotech venture capitalist. It asks him to consider adopting the innovation principle. The innovation principle concept urges governments to examine every policy, plan or political strategy for the impact it can have on innovation. If there is evidence that the measure will impede innovation, then it should be dropped, amended or otherwise rethought. The innovation principle was developed by the European Risk Forum and the European Roundtable of Industrialists. Some governments like the Netherlands have already endorsed it. Ridley is advocating its adoption for the UK for several reasons.
The idea is that the innovation principle would be used to complement rather than replace the precautionary principle in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty. The latter was introduced to prevent scandals like Thalidomide reoccurring. Adding an innovation dimension ensures there is a balance to precautionary regulatory instinct (which unchecked can stifle innovation – sometimes for the good, often unnecessarily).
Positive examples of where an application of this principle could benefit Ireland includes the more rapid development of genetically modified crops. Disease and insect resistant crops can obviate the need for toxic pesticide use. Measures like this can improve water quality and make food production cheaper and more efficient. It is an emotive issue however in Europe (and Ireland) even where it may be a more sustainable and ecologically defendable solution. We agree with the late great Professor Richard Feynman who said he’d rather have “questions that cannot be answered than answers that cannot be questioned.”
There is no indication that Ireland is going to adopt the innovation principle in the near to medium term.
New public procurement tenders this week
Visit the Keystone website to view our take on the 500+ active public procurement opportunities with more than five days until their deadline. There are a vast range of services, supplies and construction related to public procurement opportunities in the following sectors (there are many more sectors than the sample list below):
- Construction and related trades,
- Professional & Advisory Services,
- PR, Media, Advertising and related,
- ICT supplies and services,
- Property & facilities management,
- Vehicle & automotive,
- Catering and related services,
- Cleaning and related services,
- Waste Management,
- Maintenance and related services,
- Horticultural supplies & services,
- Research & environmental monitoring,
- Printing, office supplies and related services,
- Medical and scientific research, supplies and services,
- A vast range of other services and supplies.
Businesses interested in any of these strategic procurement opportunities that are unsure of how they can follow-up on these tenders can contact Keystone at any stage. We would be happy to discuss your needs and where they may fit with your business growth plans. These public procurement opportunities are sources of business growth and innovation for companies across the country.
Please note, e-tenders often has public procurement opportunities incorrectly categorised so people relying on e-tender alerts could easily miss out on opportunities if they are dependent on it. E-tenders is only as reliable as the people inputting tenders and mistakes are made very frequently. The Keystone Column includes all live tenders posted on e-tenders that have five or more days until their deadline as at May 4th 2017.