Big Data could have a lot of interpretations, depending on the context or situation where it is used. Quite a large number of non-related industries use the term “Big Data”, without referring to the same thing. In essence, the way a health professional will define Big data will be different from the way an Engineer will define the same term. Let’s see the various roles of Big Data in Construction Technology
However, this article will view “Big Data” from a Construction Professional’s objective. You will find out what Big Data is in Construction and how it can help improve the industry. Big Data is defined as extremely large data sets, generated at a high velocity simultaneously across multiple platforms, containing both structured and unstructured information, which may be analyzed through advanced computer processing to reveal patterns, trends, and other insights to enable enhanced decision making and business optimization.
So how does this relate to construction? The application of Big Data in Construction is very wide and also has lots of importance. In this article, I will let you know the roles Big Data has in construction and how it can make you do better if you are in the industry.
Challenges and Importance of Big Data in Construction
For a very long time now, experts have discovered how Big Data can have positive impacts on construction, in general. Even now, there is still research going on to harness the power of Big Data in Construction. The truth is its roles are unlimited.
For other industries like manufacturing, the applications of Big Data might be unlimited because it has fewer variables, fewer inputs, and fewer moving parts. This makes it less dynamic than Construction. In essence, leveraging Big Data in other industries is straightforward, unlike in the construction industry.
There are lots of things that make applying Big Data in Construction a bit harder. An example of this is the unpredictability of events, such as weather. Due to this, leveraging big Data in Construction might continue to be a hard nut to crack.
The first stage of events, which is the collection of data, is one of the major challenges for any industry. Although the collection of data has started getting easier as technology advances, there are still some minor challenges in the process. In the Construction Industry, there are many methods used in collecting data from a job site. Workers can make use of wearables, smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices like drones to collect data on a job site.
To collect data from equipment, tools, machinery, and other assets used on a job site, personnel can utilize IoT (Internet of Things) technology. This technology makes it easier to collect data in the field. With all of these, we can say that data collection is not the major challenge faced in construction but the management of the huge volume of data collected.
But perhaps the biggest challenge associated with big data in the construction industry is summed up with one word – sharing – that seems more apt when used to describe the challenges of kids getting along on the playground, not the challenges faced by construction companies working together on a job site.
So how does the sharing affect workers on a job site? We know that for a construction project to take place, different parties will have to come together. These separate parties have their functions in the field. They include architects, engineers, construction managers, prime and subcontractors, specialty tradesmen, and owners, to mention a few.
In essence, data collected from the job site has to be shared amongst these parties. Most times, the data collection process is carried out by only one party and it has to be shared and utilized by other parties on the field. The challenge here is of two instances: not only do construction companies have to get used to the counter-intuitive notion that sharing their proprietary data with other companies on a project is a smart business decision; often, technological roadblocks in the form of non-compatible information systems may also exist, making it difficult, if not impossible to share data even if the willingness on the part of management is there.
What are the Roles of Big Data in Construction Technology?
That being said, what then is the Role of Big Data in Construction? In construction projects, over 40 percent of the total cost goes to material waste and remedial work. This happens mainly because there is not enough data to help manage resources efficiently and effectively. An advantage of Big Data here is that it can help improve output and efficiency and by doing so, reduce waste of both materials and manpower.
The importance of Big Data is not limited to this alone. Let us go further. However, the other benefits are similar to that of many other industries. One of which is better and faster decision-making. With Big Data, there would be no need to spend a lot of time trying to make healthy decisions that can be concluded in a jiffy.
Also, Big Data can help in preventing and solving real-time problems. Too many problems on a job site will delay the rate at which work is being done. This kind of problem can be minimized with the aid of Big Data. And even when they arise, Big Data will also assist in solving them quickly.
Another Importance of Big Data in Construction is that it helps in Risk Management and improves safety. Accidents occur on job sites. Most of these happen because of poor decision-making. When Big Data is used in making decisions, there will be less occurrence of accidents on the site, thereby improving the safety of workers on the field.
As more construction companies put more effort into collecting data throughout their business operations (and not just in the field), gradually the industry will learn how to harness this incredible volume of available information to support better decision making, optimize operations and increase the bottom line. It has been projected that in the next decade, Big Data would have influenced the Construction Industry to the extent that almost all operations on-site would be based on it.