The term “cloud” has become commonplace in today’s highly technology-oriented economy. What is it? According to Microsoft, “The cloud is not a physical entity, but instead is a vast network of remote servers around the globe which are hooked together and meant to operate as a single ecosystem. These servers are designed to either store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service such as streaming videos, web mail, office productivity software, or social media.” A subset of the cloud concept is the use of those remote servers and computing power to do analytics, including forensics and fraud detection.
If you need to inspect railroad track for dimensional accuracy, an obvious safety issue, you want the best inspection tools available. If you are a lender and need data on a property to do an estimate of value, you want the best tools available. In the first case, a physical inspection is necessary while the lender might be satisfied with an accurate virtual inspection. Both are possible with today’s technology. Norfolk Southern is the first North American freight railroad to develop and deploy an autonomous track geometry measurement system that is mounted on a locomotive.
It’s all in the name: Boutique. The dictionary defines “boutique” as any small, exclusive business offering customized service. In the hotel industry, the (BLLA) Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Assn., provides a new definition for boutique hotels and boutique businesses. BLLA released a first draft of its boutique hotel categories and definitions to add clarity to this segment. BLLA attempts to provide clarity to the boutique hotel industry, recognizing the ever-evolving nature of the business, by publishing its categorization of the various kinds of boutique hotels in the world. With a comprehensive list, initially 14 types of boutique hotels, BLLA establishes the boutique hotel as a field of its own, no longer simply a subtype of a broader hotel enterprise.
Data is information in disguise. Artificial intelligence can be used to convert data into usable information and AI (artificial intelligence) can also be used to protect that data from being converted by others for illegal use. According to Gartner, Inc., a research and advisory company, more than 40% of privacy compliance technology will rely on AI by 2023, up from 5% today. Privacy laws, such as the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), present a compelling business case for privacy compliance and you can be sure many other jurisdictions worldwide will follow. In fact, more than 60 jurisdictions around the world have already proposed or are drafting privacy and data protection laws as a result.
Heavy construction equipment operators are a prime market for technology improvements to increase safety. Dozer engineers, for example, can devote less time to watching their line. Horizontal Steering Control for dozers, from Trimble, automatically controls the machine to follow any horizontal alignment such as the back of a curb, break-line, roadway centerline, or bottom of slope without operator assistance. It enables the machine to follow the horizontal guidance from the 3D model, providing operators increased awareness of their surroundings, better accuracy and improved productivity with decreased overlap and fewer passes.
Governments, at every level, are responding to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, some in measured and carefully thought out ways, others in near panic. One of the first steps was to suggest—and in many areas, require—that employers allow their employees to work from home. Obviously, that can’t be an option for construction companies that need to have boots on the ground (or ladders) and hands on the tools needed to build structures of all types.
Vehicle safety is a dynamic influenced by many variables, some under the control of the driver, others dependent on the design and manufacturing of the vehicle. Heavy equipment and trucks are used daily in construction and they have been the focus of several initiatives lately, both from OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) and aftermarket suppliers. WHO (World Health Organization) claims road traffic accidents as the eighth leading cause of death globally, claiming more than 1.35 million lives each year and causing up to 50-million injuries.
Using technology to make work easier and more efficient is becoming a mantra for contractors. Companies that make heavy equipment are adding elements that can provide safety as well as accuracy to the jobsite. John Deere is integrating SmartGrade, its proprietary grade control technology, into the 333G Compact Track Loader. SmartGrade is the first fully integrated grade control technology available on compact equipment.
Venture capital is the life blood of technology startups and Silicon Valley, the area from San Francisco south through San Jose, is—or has been—the prime spot for those startups. But that may be changing, partially due to the rising cost of housing in this area. Venture capital or VC wants to see a quick multiplier effect to its investments, leading to an IPO that makes everyone rich. Some of those investors are getting leery of the Valley and decisions on investments are becoming more cautious. The result may impact all technology segments and the industries that depend on new, advanced technology to sustain their growth, including construction and real estate.
Architects, engineers, and contractors have adopted BIM (building information modeling) technology to advance their capabilities. Now the M&O (management and operations) segment is being pitched by vendors and owners alike to get on the BIM bandwagon. Verdantix, an independent research firm in the United Kingdom, did a survey finding BIM systems bring considerable value in building M&Os those benefits are proving hard to access. BIM, from firms such as Autodesk and Trimble, is gaining major traction in the design and pre-construction phases of a building and the next issue is how to get and prove value in the M&O phase of the lifecycle.