“Big data” refers to large and complex data that is difficult to process using traditional methods. Doug Laney, data and analytics strategy innovation fellow at West Monroe, a digital services firm, defines big data as volume, velocity, and variety. Our industry produces vast amounts of structured and unstructured data daily. This includes, but is not limited to, design and construction documents, shop drawings, product data sheets, guide specifications, building information modelling (BIM), test reports, standards, occupancy evaluations, utility meters, building management systems, costs reports, emails, drones, sensors on site, financials… the list goes on. We generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, enough to fill 10 million Blu-ray discs.
According to FMI’s Big Data report from 2018, some of the largest infrastructure projects require an average of 130 million emails, 55 million documents, 12 million workflows; and 96 per cent of the data generated by the engineering and construction industry goes unused.
Our industry could benefit immensely from all the data we produce if we can collectively determine how to harness the big data; it can help us drive a higher level of decision-making, and its insight can potentially increase productivity, improve construction site safety, reduce construction waste, and create better, co-ordinated, construction documents. However, there has been a slow uptake of big data, and this is likely due to the lack of tools, knowledge, integration of systems, and the uncertainty of the end goal.
While we are navigating our way through big data, new technological advancements in tools and software are constantly being developed. IoT (Internet of Things) is opening the door for new smart tools, or it is revolutionizing the existing physical tools we use with data connectivity. BIM continues to transform how projects are envisioned, visualized, and collaborated on.
Our industry needs to look at ways of harnessing and analyzing big data to our advancement; therefore, it is essential for us to embrace technology as an investment and benefit, versus an overhead cost.
As 2023 begins, let’s try to see how we can make better use of technology during all phases, including planning and budgeting, design, construction, operations, and facilities management. Let’s share our experiences and grow together. We have the ability to increase building efficiency, reduce environmental impacts, promote better and stronger collaboration, and so much more if we use big data effectively. We have the potential to be data driven. We just have to take the first step.
Happy New Year!
Yours in service. I am CSC.