The Covid-19 pandemic is unarguably a grave misfortune on numerous levels. From the high death toll to the long-term worldwide GDP impact, this health emergency will remain a source of bitter memories for quite a long time.
While the pandemic has brought many changes to our day-to-day lives, it has also transformed the way all major industries operate. For the construction industry, which has always been really slow to absorb technological advancements, the pandemic has revealed a great degree of flexibility and versatility under extremely challenging circumstances.
This article explores seven ways through which artificial intelligence is changing the construction landscape during the Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Monitoring of Construction Sites by AI-Powered Software
During the lockdowns, while some of the projects were able to progress at the expected rate, the team leaders of these projects had to constantly look out for reliable methods for maintaining the safety of their workers.
An innovative automatic video surveillance system was developed using artificial intelligence that proved to be a remarkably powerful tool for monitoring safety. Smartvid.io enhanced its image processing software to recognize whether laborers were wearing masks and gloves. The software could also estimate the distance between workers to ensure social distancing on construction sites.
The CEO of Smartvid.io, Josh Kanner, stated that after analyzing millions of pictures across the construction sites in the US, promising results were obtained that showed strict adherence to the Covid-19 norms.
2. Use of Augmented Reality to Enable Collaboration
Another example of a trend that rapidly gained pace in the last year is the use of augmented reality to permit construction workers to work remotely and deliver projects on time.
Stefania Radopoulou, a supervisor at Trimble, summarized the trend as follows: "With the all-inclusive connection of augmented reality and a wireless connection in the field and back at the workplace, at home, or even at a coffee shop, it is possible to team up online, save time, and be profitable on projects."
3. Going Paperless
The idea of a paperless office has been tossed around for quite a long time, but not many organizations have really achieved that admirable goal. However, now, the use of paper in the construction industry has reduced as employees are preferring digital mediums over paper documents to minimize human contact.
Joe Polacek, a design engineer at Stantec, has seen a great change in the project outcomes since the pandemic hit. He observed that the use of drones, augmented reality, and online commitment has played an important role in project conversations in the last few years and have decreased the use and misuse of paper.
As people have been working from home and maintaining social distance, it wouldn't be wrong to conclude that everyone finds it easier to visualize things through AI-powered software rather than using paper for workflow.
4. Analytics-Based Supply Chain Management
One of the realities the pandemic immediately exposed was the manner in which each link in a supply chain had become interdependent. As lockdowns and reduced cash flow started affecting suppliers and laborers, a spontaneous breakdown of the supply chain created a domino effect that prompted multiple delays even in regions not under lockdown.
Most of the progressive organizations in the construction field essentially depend on the various links in the supply chain. For instance, the supply for building materials is provided by some local distributors and hence projects were affected during the Covid-19 lockdown because the link between local distributors was not maintained properly. During lockdowns, dynamic correspondence and joint efforts were missing and when conditions unexpectedly changed, firms were not prepared to adjust.
In Southern Construction Company of the United Kingdom, supply chain expert Adam Sanford has developed AI-powered software to manage supply chain data. He said that moving to a more intelligent production network that accepts direct connections and joint efforts with subcontractors will bring considerable advantages to the construction industry.
5. Building Smart Cities
Due to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, the idea of constructing smart cities has become a distant dream for some countries. But at the same time, the situation appears to be the opposite in countries like Singapore and the UAE.
In June 2020, Singapore chose to increase its investment in the digitization of construction industries by 30%. The construction engineers used all the latest tech tools to counter COVID-19 with the application of artificial intelligence, data analytics, and sensor technologies.
In the United Arab Emirates, urban areas invested in AI-based frameworks and virtual reality cameras to assist police in enforcing the norms of social distancing and other covid-19 protocols. All these tech-based services will have significant applications even after the end of the pandemic.
6. Cybersecurity Measures
The need for cybersecurity will naturally be high for the construction industry as it now depends heavily on digital technology. Since the pandemic, the staff have been working remotely, mostly on a less secure wireless connection than accessible at the workplace.
Recently, Canalys published a report stating that the cybersecurity market will be going to rise by $50 billion in 2021. The market will cover network security, information security, shipments of endpoint security, email and web security, security analytics, and management of identity access.
7. Digital Construction
Construction organizations that had effectively undergone substantial digital transformation found it a lot easier to adjust to social distancing and work-from-home situations. This applies to both off-site and on-site work because of the availability of connected construction tech solutions, using which teams can collaborate quickly. Such solutions permit all construction teams to work more efficiently and effectively.
Last year, an AI-powered engine, called Togal.AI, was developed to prepare the estimation quantities of a construction site. This AI engine uses AIA measurement standards to automatically and accurately detect, label, and measure project spaces and objects within seconds. With the help of Construction AI, the accuracy and performance of the estimation can be improved and more detailed insights can be provided for a project.
Togal.Al is useful and affordable across small, mid, and large market clients. It helps the users with:
1. Saving time and money: A user can save approximately 40 minutes per drawing sheet for estimating the quantities.
2. Bidding for more projects: A user can effectively bid on more projects and provide outputs in lesser time.
3. Reducing the error: Manual calculation can lead to a significant change in the final estimate, which can be completely eliminated by Construction AI.