How Big Data Is Changing Construction
By Nathan | Posted on March 13th, 2015
The term "big data" just sounds impressive. And indeed, it refers to the ability to analyze enormous amounts of informative in incredibly short amounts of time. It's easy to see how this process can be useful in many ways, including business. And one of the businesses that has been profiting in big ways from using big data is the construction industry.
This industry is widely seen as one of the more physical ones, but those who work within it know that there's an equal amount of administrative and paperwork involved. And as important as those aspects of it are in insuring that a project is completed properly, in the past they were often what could slow a project down.
In the good old days, project workers had to collect, analyze, and share data with multiple parties before a project could even get underway, on topics ranging from the environmental ramifications of a project to its supply needs and logistics. Aside from all of the time consuming old fashioned data gathering and crunching, enough paper was used to populate a good sized forest. And once this large paper trail was generated, the question arose as to where to store it safely and securely for extended periods of time.
But the use of big data in the construction industry has transformed the way in which this information is acquired, analyzed, and stored. Construction computer software now makes it possible to research, write, and pass along different types of reports within a couple of hours, instead of a couple of weeks. Such software also allows both text and photographs to be stored for extended periods on Web based platforms. This allows multiple parties in multiple locations to review and collaboratively work on data, while the technology's security features protect it from inappropriate parties.
"I had trouble getting through Windows For Dummies", some individuals may say. "Won't Big Data require me or my staff to suddenly become IT experts or add them to our firm?" The fact is that many firms are already heavily using construction Big Data on projects, and aren’t even consciously aware of how much they’re doing so.
They're using drones and GPS to map out project sites. Building Information Models or BIMs are well on their way to replacing blueprints. RFID (radio-frequency identification), NFC (near-field communication) and yes, smartphones have changed how communicating happens on worksites, making for safer and better connected ones.
And speaking of smartphones, software applications like Raken's have transformed them and other devices into digital field offices. Raken's daily reporting software allows for professional report filing from any location, which can be viewed and added to by appropriate parties in real time. This cuts down on delays and waste during a project's run.
No way of doing business is flawless, even digital ones, and wise construction firms will educate themselves as to what best suits their needs before hopping aboard the construction Big Data bandwagon. But hop aboard they should, as this technology is becoming more and more the way of doing business in the construction industry, and is transforming it into a safer, smarter, and more profitable one.