If you are a veteran in the world of construction, you may be able to recall what data used to mean for the construction industry. This meant compiling facts and figures on paper, then stashing them away until the project was completed for a post-mortem of sorts. In many ways, the premise of “big data” was always present in construction, just not the means to use it effectively as one would like. That is changing today, with new tech making it possible to get data not just from your recordings, but from tools including equipment, supply chains - even the buildings you work on.
The Changing Face of Construction Technology
So, exactly what is going into the revolution of data in construction? It’s a two-fold advancement in gathering data and analyzing it. In terms of gathering data, while human observation is still valuable, it can now be supplemented and supplanted by:
- Jobsite sensors
- GPS systems on heavy equipment
- Other mobile solutions
Firms also have tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to take the wider spread of data they’ve collected and use it to predict trends. This can play an important role when trying to predict outcomes over a long-term period. For example, Brown University in Rhode Island recently used a lot of these tools when trying to determine how to put together a new engineering facility. Their data worked to find the best results for both university and student benefit.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be just the pre-planning stage where big data kicks in, either. Weather, traffic, and community activity all play important roles in construction projects, and data can help predict these as well in order to guide your hand. This even extends to buildings themselves. There is a growing movement for conservation of energy in buildings, and sensors are now available for a variety of structures to help improve different conservation measures.
The Preparedness of Big Data
While it may seem a bit concerning at first glance, for the most part, having more data to influence your decisions and planning is a good thing. One survey shows the following stats about construction companies and their data needs:
- 57% want consistent, timely financial and project data.
- 48% want advance warning when specific situations occur.
- 41% want forecasting of some sort.
This allows them to better prepare for both the best and worst-case building scenarios.
- 14% want a greater usage of online analytics.
For example, this allows them to see which factors are affecting profitability of a certain outcome, and by how much.
Where the issues come in is having the means to manage said data so you can actually put it to good use. On a smaller, daily scale, apps like busybusy are exactly what you need to make this happen. Keep track of the amount of time that your employees are spending working and even using certain equipment, so you can find potential inefficiencies and room for improvement. Big data is making the construction industry better each day, but small data matters too.