For a long time in our industry, reporting the likes of environmental impact statements (EIS) to stakeholders – from government to the public – has often been an obligation or a tick-box exercise. Even when trying to have more of an impact, the format has often been used in a limited way and often dull.
With the digital advancements in other areas of our field, whether BIM modelling or generative design, we saw the opportunity at Royal HaskoningDHV to bring innovation to reporting. We set out to find a way of informing stakeholders in a more engaging way, to help bring about better decision-making.
Where we started
Back in March 2017, we launched the digital EIS, which we developed in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment.
We wanted to make the EIS a useful tool in decision-making – and give project stakeholders a real and easily-digestible understanding of the environmental impact of a project.
Designed as a new way of empowering stakeholders and accelerating decision-making in the environment industry, the digital EIS revolutionised the way in which the results of an Environmental Impact Assessment are interpreted and shared.
Encouraging close collaboration
Throughout the initial pilot phase of the digital EIS, we worked closely with various parties involved in the EIA process – from government advisers, provinces and municipalities right through to lawyers and local communities.
The independent Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) was also very closely involved and made a number of recommendations at an early stage, including the addition of a search function to help readers quickly find information.
Following a successful pilot project, the NCEA rated the digital EIS as a positive step for the industry, which proved to us that the platform could have a lasting impact.
Building an interactive digital platform
As a result, the concept was soon adapted for the use of the wider engineering industry in the form of the iReport, launched just six months later.
Where previously, enormous amounts of data and documents were almost impossible to go through in detail – even for the authorities and decision-makers whose job it was to do it – our digital tool iReport cuts through the complexity and makes getting to that correct and most informed decision much easier.
It does so by using videos, photos, maps, tables, infographics and even audio and 3D models to display data and information for stakeholders – moving away from thick, text-based documents.
And using iReport, we’re able to tell a story and empower conversations that are centred on people, all through digital technology. We can zoom into the essential information that 95% of stakeholders need to know; layering further detail for those specialists who need, or want, to know more.
A comprehensive digital way of working
The future of iReport is bright – and we have just begun working with an updated version of the platform which doesn’t just have a digital report, but starts with a homepage for each project which gives you access to specific publications regarding that project, allowing for multiple publications to be held under one digital project.
Of course, there are always challenges in creating this kind of technology – it is an entirely new way of working for most. Sometimes you have to create an innovation in order to stoke further innovations from the industry and clients. And we believe iReport is doing just that.
Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated