What’s Emerging?

New technologies are disrupting the way countries across the globe do business—and construction is no exception. Terms like blockchain, AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping), LiDAR, and IoT (Internet of Things) aren’t just for the technology savvy. These emerging technologies will change the way the construction industry works—and in many cases it is coming faster than you think.

… Terms like blockchain, AI, ML, SLAM, LiDAR, and IoT aren’t just for the technology savvy …

Inside a Blockchain Project

Blockchain just might be the next, new emerging technology that construction companies need to keep an eye on. A quick primer: A blockchain can be considered a list of records that are linked using cryptography—and it just might change the way construction operates. While there are a number of blockchain initiatives, one example of a new one combines blockchain and energy technologies. The AI Grid Foundation, Singapore, China, has worked with organizations around the world to develop the ELONCITY Model, a community-based and consensus-driven approach that employs decentralized renewable energy resources as a means to remove barriers to safe, secure, and reliable electricity services. Currently, it is working in remote areas where electricity services are unreliable or non-existent. The foundation is in discussion with construction firms and developers to pilot the ELONCITY Model in a newly developed community. While this is one example, others are beginning to develop as well.

A Big Focus on Artificial Intelligence

Global spending on cognitive and AI systems will continue to climb, with expected growth between 37.3% between 2017 and 2022. It will have a big impact on the construction industry in the future. As one example, scheduling is advancing, with the help of AI. InEight, www.ineight.com, Scottsdale, Ariz., for instance, made a big move when it acquired BASIS, a company that built an AI planning software tool for the construction industry. What is now known as InEight BASIS today will guide a planner or scheduler through the development of a plan. This allows construction companies to capture data in a central location and use that information to make intelligent decisions during one of the most crucial phases of construction—planning. While intelligence will provide more insights, construction companies will need to work hand-in-hand with AI and machine learning tools, as it offers unique opportunities to improve operations. Something to keep in mind as your business moves forward in the months ahead.

Personalize Your Business

For some residential construction and property-management professionals, the name of the game is location, location, location, but with the advent of new technologies, some are realizing that the new adage might soon be: personalize, personalize, personalize. The 2018 State of the Property Management Industry Report from the National Assn. of Residential Property Managers, www.narpm.org, Chesapeake, Va., surveyed 2,000 respondents and found that property managers are facing a number of trends: new construction flooding major cities and a strong seller’s market. Additionally, property managers are needing to adapt to a new generation of renters and investment-minded owners who expect on-demand customer service and technology. Thus, many property managers are making a strategic shift toward tech-enabled customer service—and this can come in many different shapes and forms for the client. Perhaps this should be an area of focus for your construction organization in the year ahead as well?

A Look at a Cybersecurity Hub

Cybersecurity hubs and innovation centers are popping up all across the globe—and offer insight into how innovation is changing in the tech sector. One example comes out of Baltimore, Md. The Port Covington Hub is a large urban renewal effort. The first buildings will be built in Rye Street Market—a mixed-use property, which will include three boutique loft-style creative office buildings, totaling 180,000-sq.ft. Future phases will include more than 10 million-sq.ft. of additional office, residential, retail, and hotel development. Port Covington’s appeal to cybersecurity firms will include the creation of a secure, redundant, private, fiber-optic loop to provide gigabit-speed Internet connectivity and site-wide public Wi-Fi service. It is unique in that it will be built with a cybersecurity-hardened infrastructure and will support security efforts throughout the project, while facilitating technology development as the project progresses. Just one recent example of how a cybersecurity hub is coming to fruition.

Smart Systems Ahead

Are your building systems smart? From the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), to fire detection, components within facilities are quickly becoming connected. Such is the case with fire detection. Persistence Market Research, www.persistencemarketresearch.com, New York, N.Y., shows that there is a rising demand for smoke detectors in both commercial and residential. And today, advanced technology is enabling greater fire safety by detecting smoke at the earliest possible stage. For example, new technology is drawing in air samples through flexible tubing to a central testing location. This dramatically improves commercial facility safety. An example of one such system is the VESDA-E VEA by Xtralis, www.xtralis.com, Avon, Mass., which is designed for a host of applications such as healthcare, museums, airports, trains and tunnels, prisons, and more. While some owners may be prone to use spot smoke detectors because of their familiarity with traditional systems, new advances offer new opportunites.