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Insights How data mining can push the frontiers of civil engineering

Data has become an integral part of almost every industry in recent times, and the acceleration of a digital society has boosted its growth. It’s becoming increasingly evident that data and analytics are critical in transforming civil engineering and construction. Data mining in the civil engineering industry has emerged as an essential tool for knowledge discovery and is being implemented throughout the construction and engineering sectors across the world.

Data mining revolves around unearthing patterns and valuable information from substantial sets of data. Data professionals will find anomalies, patterns and correlations within large data sets and use the information to predict future outcomes. Civil engineering is overcoming setbacks it used to face through data, thus improving productivity and overall efficiency. Here, we discuss how data mining can continue to push the frontiers of civil engineering.

image of a building site with a crane in the background

Monitoring the health of infrastructure

Many countries face the problem of ageing infrastructure and a lack of funds to begin new construction projects. As a result, there is increased interest in understanding the current state of existing structures to measure how long they can remain in use.

Structures are meticulously monitored to ensure safety and to identify any issues that require action. Civil engineers traditionally use a host of manual methods to compare actual structural behaviour with the theoretical structure that was completed during the design phase.

However, data-driven methods are now an attractive prospect because of their ability to develop accurate models based on a considerable amount of data. Data mining and analysis can help in monitoring the conditions of infrastructure both above and below the ground. Data obtained from sensors can be stored, and data analysis can be used to predict the health of a structure and identify any unforeseen issues.

Improve field data collection methods

Field data collection has been a significant hurdle for several construction projects in the 21st century. A large portion of civil engineering organisations are still using outdated, manual forms of data collection, which can slow down a project and reduce its efficiency. Modern construction projects are highly complex, and as the size of the project increases, the amount of field data also increases.

By integrating data mining into their data collection strategy, the civil engineering industry can now collate information in an efficient and structured manner. As a result, engineering companies save money, time, and other valuable resources.

Data mining also helps civil engineers to separate and arrange the data effectively along with collecting it. Systematic categorisation of field data makes it easier for engineers to formulate their plans for construction and means that they don’t have to spend countless hours manually processing the field data.

Improving foresight and predictions

Predictive Analytics is a highly beneficial tool for civil engineers when it comes to project management. Predictive analytics is the practice of using current and historical data to predict future outcomes. Through the use of a range of data mining and analytics tools, professionals can forecast potential outcomes of a project using techniques including statistical modelling and machine learning.

Data mining is a key aspect of predictive analytics as the huge amounts of data collected allows civil engineers to break every task into individual work packages. By effectively segregating tasks and delegating them to the correct teams, civil engineers can successfully map expectations, predict any potential issues and efficiently implement tasks throughout the project.

Data mining can also help civil engineers contribute to a greener future by using historical data to find patterns of inefficiency is the use of resources. The data collected can pinpoint where resources and materials were wasted on past projects and predict where the same could happen on future projects. Predicting and making changes to resource management can have a lasting impact on the environment and have a substantial effect on the carbon footprint of the construction industry.

Discover a rewarding civil engineering career with AtkinsRéalis

Here at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis group, our mission for civil engineers is to create sustainable solutions that connect people, data and technology to design and deliver most complex projects.

We’re proud to have some of the most resourceful and innovative designers and engineers in the industry, who embed sustainability into design and utilise our route map to achieve our Net Zero Carbon goals.

At AtkinsRéalis , we believe the success of our teams depends, amongst other things, on a diversity of experience, so we also consider professionals seeking a career change. If you’ve got a creative mindset, you’re looking to build a successful career in civil engineering, and you’re keen to help us on our journey to Net Zero, we’d like to hear from you.

Start building for your future and browse our civil engineering jobs today or sign up for job alerts.