Water, Sewage & Effluent May June 2019 - Page 37

About the author www.waterafrica.co.za Water Sewage & Effluent May/June 2019 35 innovations A very simple explanation is that it has something to do with the future and how the world is changing. 4IR is already here and growing at an exponential rate. It reminds me of an analogy presented to me many years ago: Imagine there’s a pond with a single water lily. If the water lily doubles every day and by the 30th day the pond is completely covered, on which day would the pond be half full? Many would calculate it as the 15th day, but the answer in fact is on the 29th day. My point is that technology is also moving at a phenomenal pace and we can see it around us almost on a daily basis. 4IR is the future – your future – it is basically a new industrial and technical revolution. Recently, someone mentioned to me that, more and more, the lines between physical, digital, biological and the economy are becoming ‘blurred’. I think what this means is that we will depend more and more on technology, to the point that many jobs will become redundant. The question is how will this affect the engineer, and more specifically civil engineering? One thing is for certain, as long as there are people there will be a need for water and sanitation, energy and transport and some kind of infrastructure in an environment where people and animals can live and survive. With the advancement of technology though, all of this will look and work very differently from what we have today. There’s talk about ‘smart buildings’ and ‘smart cities’ already being designed within a world where we already have smart phones and other smart technology. If we compare the design office of the engineer of 30 or 40 years ago with what we have today, the advancements are already mind- boggling, so the question is how will things look 20 years from now? Vollie Brink (Pr Eng, MSAICE, MPMISA, MFEASA) is one of the industry’s longest-serving wet service engineers. He continues to serve on SABS committees and has been involved in the Green Building Council’s Green Star rating system. Brink continues to consult for various organisations while enjoying a well-deserved retirement.