The airwaves and newspaper columns regularly overflow with reports of the ever-growing significance of data to the modern business. But whilst other industries are charging ahead with their use of data, the construction sector is, arguably, lagging behind. In fact, according to an FMI whitepaper, 95% of the data generated on a construction site goes unused.
But within these oceans of data lie clues for how to drive productivity by creating new methods of working, or streamlining important back-office functions. It was this challenge that was presented to the near-100 people who attended the Sir Robert McAlpine sponsored Project:Hack 3.0, ran by Projecting Success in The Microsoft Reactor, London.
The teams, which featured a huge diversity of people, from data scientists through to company directors and students, were presented with data sets to solve a number of challenges. These included:
- How can AI be applied to photo datasets to identify differences between good and bad quality images of construction materials?
- Can data determine whether the daily diaries for construction activities show the likely success of the project?
- Can sustainability be improved by using Waste & Materials and Energy & Carbon usage data?
With roughly 35% of time by construction professionals spent on non-productive tasks, ‘the biggest opportunity is in time-related data and how we can drive productivity’, according to Gareth Parkes, our Company Knowledge Manager and one of the event’s organisers. And the ideas developed by the teams, rewarded with over £1,000 worth of prizes, neatly demonstrated the value of data to construction.
The team that came third, for instance, developed a fantastic idea for real-time ranking the effectiveness of diary entry: those with the greatest detail – including full names of subcontractors, or the number of people working in a particular area – would score highest. Modelled on existing, widely-used systems for ranking the effectiveness of passwords, the idea has the potential to really drive forward productivity on-site.
The joint winners, meanwhile, developed an incredible AI technology that could analyse images and determine, with a staggering 92% accuracy, which images featured reinforced steel bars, meaning that individuals would never again have to label images, freeing up huge amounts of time.
In Gareth Parkes’ view, the future of construction lies in data: the SRM team is, at present, looking at how the winning idea can be rolled out across the company.
He said: "It’s crazy how much time is spent on non-productive tasks. The teams came up with all sorts of ideas and as soon as we are able to integrate our programmes with other data sets we will see huge changes across the industry."
And with SRM leading the field when it comes to digital construction, plans are already well underway for Project:Hack 4.0. Set to take place in October, the event will see teams grapple with a real-life challenge from one of SRM’s sites.
Gareth added: "I see events like Project:Hack as being the future for SRM and the industry. Why wouldn’t we want to start developing these ideas and recruiting the next generation of talent in this way?".
For more information on how you can get involved in Project:Hack 4.0, click here.