When people think of construction, they often think of building work taking place in their immediate community. Projects that follow a common template, building upon existing ideas are known as “paradigm takers”.
Some of the most exciting projects are known as “paradigm makers” since they promise to change the way we live and work. Such mega projects are becoming more common place. Rapid urbanization and ageing infrastructure are among the reasons driving this demand. Recently, McKinsey estimated that $57tn needs to be invested in new infrastructure by 2030.
Traditionally, construction on any scale has shared a common theme: inefficiency. We need to rethink old practices. The World Economic forum recently reported that the Engineering & Construction industry accounts for 6% of global GDP, consumes 50% of global steel and is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse emissions each year. For taxpayers and society-at-large, the construction sector has a moral obligation to find more effective ways to deliver projects.
The construction sector is slow to embrace new technology
While US labor productivity rose 153% since 1964, construction labor productivity declined over the same period by 19%. Marginal productivity improvement of only 1% could save society $100bn per year.
Industry commentators describe that this stagnation is likely to be brought to an end by a period of Digital Disruption. Billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, present untold possibilities. Such possibilities will be multiplied and further extended by emerging technology breakthroughs. New fields -- such as: artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing -- are likely to trigger self-perpetuating waves of complementary innovation.
Taking one facet of the emerging, multiplicative technological breakthroughs, Data Science is arguably one area in which organizations can immediately develop or further enhance their capability. Within the built environment, IoT technology promises to offer rich data streams that will allow teams to discover efficiencies hidden before now.
In October 2017, construction professionals met at a private event in Scottsdale, AZ, to discuss how to implement strategies for performance optimization. Hosted by the construction project technology provider InEight, the event provided a forum for delegates to explore ways for the construction sector to rewire itself.
Digital disruption within the construction sector continues to build momentum. Like-minded professionals are coming together to articulate a shared vision. Together, we will develop the skills and technology needed to develop the built environment for the greater good.