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Build A Better Database: Part 2

Data in the construction industry: how does it help behind the scenes?

2Feb

So you’ve read part one of our blog about the property industry using data, now it’s time for part two: data in the construction industry! If you haven’t read it you can find it here, but if you have – venture on, my friend.

I’ll never forget when I was younger my dad teaching me how a dome structure is super strong. He gave me an egg straight from the little box and had me place my two hands on opposite sides of it and then try to break it by squeezing them together. It’s just not possible and I try every time I go to make eggs. So that was my first little insight into the construction industry and infrastructure.

So behind all the awesome projects and massive, technical infrastructures – how does data help behind the scenes?

I’m always hearing dad on the phone talking about the costs of a project. Getting the costs wrong of the tiniest nail or screw could actually bankrupt a company because the projects are that large.

The industry is lagging slightly with their use of data, however it is moving in the right direction – towards real-time, cloud powered analytics of massive, unorganised datasets. I’ve said before that data is the golden thread that ties departments together and this couldn’t be more true: creative architects, logical engineers and cost-aware owners can work together and ignore the previously tense relationships they had with each other as data can help them to develop and deliver projects which accommodate for all parties.

For far too long the process of procuring building and infrastructure assets has been carried out in separate, often unconnected, stages. The advent of BIM (Business Information Modelling), which ensures people and information working together effectively and efficiently through defined processes and technology, allows all organizations and people involved in the life of a project to realise significant benefits and reduce risk - and not just financial. Significant time benefits can be achieved as well as reduced operation and maintenance needs and, in the case of occupied buildings, improved enjoyment for the people who live or work there.

John Jacobs, CIO for JE DUNN told Forbes that 'that their new Big Data-driven BIM (building information modelling) system is estimated to have reduced costs of one $60 million civic center construction project by $11 million, and cut the projected completion time by 12 weeks by drastically shortening the pre-construction phase.'

This type of system is a sure way to win tenders and bids for projects as not only are the savings huge but the completion time is drastically reduced – I know when my dad is bidding on projects for his company, he’s constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and ensure the project can be completed on or before the deadline.

External data plays a large part too, for example weather reports. Awful weather can delay building projects (the bane of all construction companies' lives!) which then lead to increased expense. By being able to monitor the weather and using the data from the previous year, more accurate assessments can be made to account for these obstacles.

Databases are constantly changing; they are never in a set state. As with all other industries, construction databases are no different. Regular cleansing keeps on top of the many changes that these massive datasets will be up to date and ensure marketing communications and reputations are upheld.

So that’s another snippet of data in the construction industry. The opportunities are huge if the data is utilised correctly, and it’s certainly an interesting relationship to keep an eye on in the near future.

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