During the Digital Construction Week in London, different stakeholders showed current trends and upcoming technologies in geospatial and GIS.
Collectively, they offered practical guidance, best practices and focus on helping create links. They showcased the value and convergence of these technologies and processes for the wider construction industry. Also, the wider role of geospatial was highlighted. Admittedly, it feeds into the digital built environment, the opportunities for future cities, estate management and connected sites.
Business Intelligence for building and construction
Costain Group focused on their smart infrastructure solutions for water utilities. They showed that geospatial provides a great integration platform for Power BI Business Intelligence in smart infrastructure. Costain witnesses an increased demand for insight-driven GIS solutions across the UK’s energy, water and transportation infrastructures. It promotes more collaborative working, analytical thinking and innovative use of the Esri GIS-platform as a valuable strategic tool. Using open data, their neat pollution dashboard is one example of connecting business data and geospatial information.
Drone technology for building and construction
The session by Alberto Cajiao of Sitemark and Via IMC dealt with a long-term collaboration. Sitemark, a technology-oriented start-up in Belgium works with global construction company Vinci. Within Vinci, the German company Via IMC GmbH functions as their digital innovation hub. It implements BIM practices across the group, initially within Germany and the construction of roads and highways. Sitemark is helping enterprises in the energy, mining and construction industries to advance. It does so by delivering actionable insights on their industrial assets through aerial data and artificial intelligence. Together, Via IMC and Sitemark have launched avus.digital. This is an online platform that enables all construction units of Vinci to deploy drone technologies and aerial data on their construction sites. With one single click, it should take away some of the challenges, fears and doubts of implementing these technologies at scale.
A drone is just the carrier
Drones can do a lot, from planting trees into the ground to spray painting and cleaning buildings. Why doesn’t the market fully adopt these technologies? What are the barriers? Is this the right time? “The drone is just the carrier”, says Tom Yeshurun, founder/ CEO of CivDrone, “the actual carriage is the technology we have been looking for”. Yeshurun successfully showed that drones in construction can go far beyond 3D surveying & mapping. They are good for pothole repair, painting walls, burning waste in electricity cables and even cleaning windows… As a technology partner, CivDrone acknowledged the capabilities of drone platforms that were also present during the Digital Construction Week: Trimble Imaging, Leica Geosystems, Pix4D, Topcon, Skycatch and DroneDeploy.
Pollution issues in building and construction
Construction projects spend up to 5 per cent of their contract value managing environmental risk and mitigation. It’s a dirty problem, but, traditionally, only environmental specialists recognize it. It is estimated to cost the industry over £6 billion in the UK alone, and with increasing regulation it’s only getting worse. QualisFlow explained that environmental risks are silently killing building project margins. Noise during building activities might be quite easy to capture, but what about FSC certification (timber) and those impractical paper docs being used on-site? “We are going to the gate of the Construction site” said Brittany Harris, CEO of QualisFlow, “with a funky little app we will be digitizing the small difficult bits, for better productivity and sustainability. Just because we are all knowing that the rest of the world won’t change. At least not within the next five years.”
Change detection for building and construction
In recent years, visualisation technologies targeting the construction industry have improved efficiency. This is in part thanks to the ability to plan aspects of a project and monitor progress through site digitization. However, to date, the huge volumes of data amassing potential has been relatively untapped. Software solutions can turn unstructured data into structured data. From aerial footage and ground spherical imagery, to asset tagging and documentation libraries. Drone inspection company Cyberhawk is bringing 3 cm resolution orthophotos to the construction site and visualizes them for change detection purposes. Drone captured data get processed into orthophotos which can zoom, rotate be compared, measured and hosted alongside 3D models, 360-degree imagery and videos. Together, they provide a valuable site vizualisation solution. The software creates a central point for bringing together visual data and linking it to a variety of other valuable data points.
Right now, 2017 start-up Correvate UK is focussing on commercializing University College London research on cloud computing, data storage, data processing and data sharing. They do automated laser scan registration and specialize in the alignment of disparate scans of the same building. This talk highlighted the importance of the cloud and AI, based on research from UCL. To generate useful and actionable information from ‘big data’ like this, one requires leveraging smart analytical tools that become more and more accessible, especially when hosted from the cloud. Both this cloud computing infrastructure and artificial intelligence provide the tools to leverage and enable digital technology by providing convenient methods of working at scale. Thus, lowering the barriers to entry for users to these new ways of working.
Satellites for building and construction
The Satellite Structural Health Monitoring services (S-SHMTM) of Telespazio aims at ‘difficult’ regions with multiple assets. The focus is on surveying large areas for long periods of time (at least five years). It’s a new approach for efficient asset management, based on the integration and modelling of satellite derived measurements of displacement (InSAR) with 3D Building Information Model (BIM) and other data sources. This new capability centers on the development of early warning and the prediction of structural deformation. Thus, it allows the asset’s condition to be highlighted, aiding decision making for multiple assets management. One example of this, the Foresee Project, consists of interesting ideas and research aiming to predict landslides using rainfall data and satellite measurements.
Digital Construction Week
The building and construction sector have come to realize that the geospatial industry witnesses change like never before. Also, architects, engineers and constructors see that in the digitally worlds they design, understanding of the physical is essential. It allows them to better plan, predict, and deliver projects through greater access and analysis of data. Indeed, these data sets help solve some of the many challenges of the built environment. The builders and constructors expect geospatial solutions to expand from positioning and registering locations. They now should take a wider and deeper role in the construction and operation buildings and facilities. They will be pivotal against the backdrop of smart cities and the Internet of Things. In a concise fashion, Digital Construction Week, held at 16 and 17 October at ExCel in London, contributed as an excellent knowledge partner and intermediate host.