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Insights What’s the impact of data on construction?

From saving costs to boosting productivity, the construction industry faces constant pressure to continually improve and adapt to changing needs. One concept helping the construction industry realise benefits is data utilisation.

At AtkinsRéalis and our brands Atkins and Faithful+Gould, we have long seen the benefits of harnessing data throughout the construction sector. So much so, Atkins publishes an annual Data By Design report that shares how we harness data and analysis for a wealth of sustainability-focused projects, including cities and development, utilities and railways.

lists of numbers laid over a construction site

Using data in construction

As recently as 2017, 95% of construction data was either not collected or not used. However, construction firms are now seeing how data can bring competitive advantages through intelligent and AI-driven software. To work successfully, data works best when collected into a single source. Professionals can analyse and tap into this data to not only help remedy the construction issues of the past but also create new advantages that can transform the industry.

The impact of data on construction

Improving safety and eliminating high-risk activities

Data can be a vital tool for minimising risks and reporting safety concerns. Using predictive analytics, it’s possible to prevent accidents and injuries as well as their associated costs and impact. With data providing regular reminders and reports, it’s possible, for example, to schedule preventative maintenance for construction machinery, which can reduce the risk of malfunction and breakdowns.

Data can also help to provide information on the likelihood, location and probable incidents. This can help companies better understand where and when safety incidents are likely to occur and who may be impacted. With this, organisations can better understand their environments and put in place the processes, tools, safety training and equipment needed to prevent further incidents and improve worker wellbeing.

As technology advances, data can come from new developments. For example, construction wearables can help monitor when workers are tired, which could impact safety. Similarly, weather trackers can help assess the situation and environment and whether it’s safe for construction activities. As data collection increases, more precise data will come through, creating even more accurate predictions.

Increase sustainability

Creating sustainable infrastructure is an important trend in the construction industry. For example, Saudi Arabia is focusing on Vision 2030 – an ambition to accelerate sustainability and energy efficiency through the rapid redesign and redevelopment of the built environment. Similarly, AtkinsRéalis is supporting several building services clients looking to develop more sustainable, energy-efficient buildings to help combat climate change.

By collating construction data from past projects, it makes it easier to predict the material requirements for future projects accurately. Past analysis can also help designers and planners to map out energy-efficient alternatives and understand the solutions that are successful or need revising for upcoming projects.

With advanced construction technology, it is possible to create ‘digital twins’ for construction projects. These can show how an asset will perform and allow planners to develop changes to improve environmental performance digitally before implementing the changes during the build phase. For increased success, retaining data throughout project lifecycles helps to empower better decision-making for future projects but also for energy-efficient repairs and maintenance.

Construction management and decision making

From cost breakdowns for stakeholder approval to checking subcontractor bids for accuracy, construction project managers face a range of decisions. However, automatically generated reports and real-time data can help construction project managers make decisions for even the most complex projects.

Data sources make monitoring operations and pinpointing friction areas easier in real-time. With this, construction managers can make fast but well-founded decisions and mitigate the risk of problems before they escalate. Furthermore, the real-time data can also create real-time alerts. These alerts can be vital for improving communication across multiple teams and subcontractors to ensure changes are implemented quickly, and alerts can be actioned immediately.

With cost and profitability being key decision factors for clients and stakeholders, project managers can use construction analytics to drill into the costs, value and return on investment. All of these can help keep projects within budget and improve profitability for future designs.

Harnessing data in your construction management career

From designing urban developments to creating communities or delivering mission-critical solutions, your cities and development career can be enhanced with emerging data technologies. From smart safety equipment to digital modelling, AtkinsRéalis harnesses the latest construction trends to help our teams solve the biggest challenges in development and construction.

We’re an organisation at the forefront of innovation and we’re always seeking the best talent to support us on client projects. If you’re looking to drive innovation and sustainability to improve existing developments and create future concepts through data and smart technologies, AtkinsRéalis offers a wide range of exciting opportunities to make an impact in cities and development.

Find your next built environment role, or create a personalised job alerts for regular, relevant construction management career opportunities.