25 February 2021 3 min read

How Can AI and Big Data Be Used for Digitising Construction?


AI, Big Data, machine learning - these are just a few examples of the evolution and of inapprehensible progress technology has made throughout the years. Its omnipresent and increasing applications became world-wide phenomena and a must for many industries. Is construction going to be one of them?

The terms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data both convey the idea of the unimaginable potential of modern technology and its indisputable impact on different areas, industries and sectors in our lives. Though hard to see with a bare eye and, therefore, unnoticeable for many, AI and Big Data have been surrounding us since the Second World War when Colossus was discovered. This marked the beginning of a new era for modern technologies, the era where the computer’s potential was finally noticed and accordingly used. Likewise, the advantages of applying AI and Big Data in the construction industry are numerous and could only lead to its growth. However, the question arises: how exactly can AI and Big Data be used for digitising construction?

What Exactly is Big Data and AI?

First things first, let’s try to define the actual meaning and use of both concepts to erase all doubts. According to the article What is Web 2.0? published in 2005 by Tim O’Reilly, Big Data is “an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools”. In other words, it is an enormous amount of information gathered, which is impossible to be analysed or managed in a traditional way. Now, the concept of Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, first appeared in the 1950s, when scientists started speculating on the possible creation of an intelligent machine capable of imitating human behaviour. However, it wasn’t until forty years later, when the progress was actually made, leading the first computer to defeat a human champion in their own discipline. Despite a grand achievement, which proved that manmade intelligence can outperform the best of us, there were many initial complications with developing AI due to the slow-paced progress of technology at that time. It was the machine learning algorithms and their capacity to learn from exposure to huge amounts of data that became a milestone for AI in 2006 and that will, subsequently, turn out to be the most dynamically evolving branch of AI.

Big Data and AI In Construction

Luckily for us, new technology has evolved so much and has expanded onto so many industries in recent years that there is simply no escape from it if you want to keep up the pace. Undoubtedly, the rule applies to the construction industry as well, which has nothing to lose by applying AI and Big Data for digitising construction. Furthermore, the profits of such actions being taken would result in the growth and improvement of the entire industry. Safety, efficiency and sustainability would be just a few of the benefits was the industry to use Big Data and AI in digitisation.

Unfortunately, the use and implementation of innovative (and usually experimental) technologies require, on the one hand, the resources achievable only for the biggest “predators” and on the other hand, the full digitisation of the industry, which, sadly, is not the case of construction. And although we can all agree that there is still a long way ahead, the industry is slowly getting there.

What does the future hold?

The good news is that the moment the construction industry takes the necessary steps crucial for its digitisation, including the implementation of tools that will allow it to gather more data, the sky's the limit!

The opportunities and the possibilities for Big Data as well as for AI applications are endless, stretching from design to pre-construction. On top of that, the emerging solutions will help construction face some of the greatest challenges, such as cost and schedule overruns and safety concerns.

What to know more about AI and Big Data use in the construction industry?
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2024-07-20 05:50:20