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The Internet of Things: how architecture can make use of new tech ?

03.09.2018
The Internet of Things: how architecture can make use of new tech ?

 

The construction industry has been under a great deal of evolutionary pressure in recent years. An industry strongly rooted in traditional practices that are slow to change, it’s often been seen as stagnant, or at least sluggishly progressing. Technologies seemingly easily adapted and implemented in Big Tech software platforms, solutions, applications, etc. are hitting the scene at a breakneck pace. The tech landscape is so fast paced that keeping up with the rate at which technologies become obsolete renders it truly difficult to shift an entire industry’s technological foundation.

 

Change isn’t as slow as people think and construction is finding collaborative means to combine technologies and human beings in moving forward. The two, working as allies, are seeing technological additions that are making a dangerous, taxing industry safer, faster, smarter, and more cost effective. Of course, while the industry is evolving, so are the projects. Naturally, change begets change and seeing we’re approaching the future of construction and building, it’s important to break down some of the complexities that may be unfamiliar.

 

Image taken from Shutterstock

 

We’re here to touch on the Internet of Things (IoT) and how the integration of technologies in the industry are beginning to shape change in construction. Of course, it’s necessary to break down complexities into simplicities as best as possible. It boils down to the collection of data and how that data is used to make the construction process more streamlined. Technologies becoming smarter through distributed data systems that learn from each other. What does this have to do with construction? A whole lot more than you might think.

 

The Internet of Things

 

IoT has been a tech world buzzword for a while now, but remains mysterious to most outside of the technological literati. Harnessing the constructive power of data, IoT has been restructuring how construction projects are completed.

 

 

What is IoT?

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects that communicate to one another through internet connection. The information communicated between them can then change the behavior of certain devices based on their purpose, therefore making them smart. 

 

What’s the point?

 

Data is the point. Swiftly becoming the most valuable commodity across virtually every industry, data properly analyzed can provide optimized solutions to some of the most pervasive problems we face. When there is a massive network of interconnected devices collecting, analyzing, and sharing data, the more solutions to problems are available. Which brings us to our part. 

 

In construction, IoT and human beings work well together because the devices are capable of powerful data collection, analysis, and interconnected sharing. The point of IoT is informed learning from data shared and gathered. How can data collected at a massive scale from these connected devices solve problems? The funny part about software systems is that they’re programmed to do what we program them to do. Then they do it very well. However, beyond their scope, it falls to operators to make decisions given the data that software creates and crunches. Smart technologies are able to optimize themselves based on the device’s purpose, we optimize the overarching scope of a job through collective data translation. 

 

 

So, how does it help?

 

The construction industry is extremely dependent on time, efficiency, and physical materials. Take construction vehicles, for instance; these machines take a serious beating and they’re very expensive. When (and it happens often) one breaks down and needs to leave a site for maintenance, if even for a day, that loss of productivity, out of pocket repair cost, and delay impact the project. As well planned as construction projects can be, there are unforeseen variables that throw a wrench in the gears of efficiency. Compound those problems and the cost is exorbitant.

 

What if that machinery shared connectivity to a main server that communicated repair needs, usage time, and a whole trove of data in real time? What if impending problems could be extricated from that data and avoided ahead of time? 

 

Spread this idea to any number of devices and the reach of IoT is only as limited as consistent connectivity, our ability to sift through mountainous data sets, and how we use it once analyzed. 

 

Image taken from Shutterstock

 

What will it look like going forward?

 

IoT is a different technological type because the goal isn’t to uproot and rebuild an industry. The point is to integrate options that will allow the industry to utilize connected information to optimize as many parts as data interpretation will allow. It will look very different moving forward. Not only will things be built in IoT, but finished projects will operate on it. Smart technologies are rising in the building process, but they’re beginning to be integrated into whole buildings and even (smart)cities. 

 

Most people see the construction industry as a set of faceless working hands that put buildings up and make sure they don’t fall over. They do it fast, then they move to the next project. The details that go into the creation of the millions of standing structures around the world are thought of little beyond the fact they worked. Voila! There’s a building. 

 

 

Planning, execution, and managing the variability of the industry has to fall into balanced hands. Technology can’t do everything and neither can we. Together, the possibilities stand to make positive changes around the world. Human beings will never be without need for shelter, so, in a way, the evolving construction industry will never be without demand as long as humans exist. 

 

Industry professionals know the truth of development and the variety of facets needed to make the construction process successful. Too many fear technology and automation. What they often choose to look past is the understanding that technologies aren’t enemies. They’re allies that we will continue to work with toward building a future that stands firmly on the foundation of that allegiance.  

 

 

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