Bid data. It’s a huge buzzword right now. And no wonder. Almost every economic sector is finding value in gathering huge amounts of data, having it digitally analyzed based upon its questions/needs, and then using it to make smart business decisions – decisions based upon science, not gut feelings. In the healthcare industry alone, big data can now produce heretofore unknown protocols that have been developed anywhere in the world; big data can be used to predict disease outbreaks based upon real-time conditions.
But what about the construction industry? Is it using big data as it makes decisions about construction projects, infrastructure planning, construction trends? Studies suggest that the use of big data in construction is still in its infancy but has the potential to transform that industry in many positive ways.
Here are just a few ways in which the construction industry can leverage big data as it considers the type of construction that will gain the most momentum, construction costs, construction industry trends and even decisions about construction employment.
1. Typical Current Uses
Lage construction enterprises currently use in-house big data for such things as tracking equipment and other assets, to design models and phases of projects, as well as to organize their construction sites. They use it to upgrade safety construction training. Some gather small amounts of data from the outside, perhaps infrastructure news and events, in order to in order to enhance such projects and designs.
But big data from the cloud is where the bigger, more exciting transformations of the industry lie. Collecting and analyzing large unstructured datasets will positively impact most facets of construction. Here are additional uses which are already beginning to make headway.
2. Safety Management
This is an area which is just beginning to rear its head. Construction companies are mining and analyzing large amounts of information on workplace health and safety and using it to predict hazard potentials that put their workers at risk. Obviously, this can save the industry huge amounts in insurance and compensation costs.
3. Smarter Buildings and Infrastructure Construction
Big data, gathered from all over the world, analyzed properly, can provide insights into the latest innovations in design and construction. If, for example, a company is focused on a sustainable building project, there is much to be gleaned from such projects in other parts of the world, where energy efficiency is well beyond that which most companies are incorporating in the U.S. The same goes for infrastructure development – light rail systems, smart cities, etc.
4. Forensics Issues
The fear of all industrial construction companies. A bridge collapses; a walkway becomes unstable. Big data can provide a history of such failures and the reasons for them. When construction companies can have insights into such failures, they can ensure that their designs avoid such flaws. And it’s not just the big catastrophes that make the news. There are design flaws even in more minor construction projects that can be avoided if the right data is gathered. The other issue? If design flaws are found too late while construction is in progress, there is additional costs to fix them and the potential for missed deadlines, with accompanying penalties.
5. Equipment Stability and Reliability
Big data can provide entire histories on construction equipment manufacturers, and the reliability of what they produce. When construction and/or infrastructure spending includes the purchase of additional equipment, better decisions can be made relative to who to purchase it from.
6. Getting That Bird’s Eye View
Large constructions companies typically have several projects going at one time. Traditional databases have siloed the information/data on individual projects separately, and there has been no crossover view. When companies move to the cloud with their own data, they can use all of that data from multiple projects to analyze what is going well, what is not going well, and why. Data from one project can inform what changes need to be made in another project to increase efficiency, both in cost and manpower.
It’s Immature but Growing Up
Charles Barnum, marketing director for Trust My Paper and big data enthusiast, puts it this way: “Every sector of our economy can benefit from big data, and its cohorts, artificial intelligence and machine learning. When companies understand how they can harness the oceans of data out there, get it analyzed in a matter of seconds, and have the information they need to make solid, research-based decisions and predictions, they will have a definite competitive edge.” The construction has lagged behind others, probably because the data pool is not as significant as it is in other sectors. But it is coming. Wise construction companies will invest in big data solutions.
Marie Fincher is a content writer at Trust My Paper company with a background in marketing, technology and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it.