How will new technology impact how we write and enforce contracts? Drones, sensors, artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies are collecting more data than has ever been available before. With the right process, this data can be used to monitor costs, shipments, schedule around delays and in the overall management of construction projects.

dubai construction

At the Houston RICS Summit of the Americas 2018, a breakaway workshop tackled the subject of Construction in the 21st Century. Panelists discussed how new technology can be harnessed to ease costs and attract the next generation in a competitive environment where skilled, competent workers are in demand.

How will new technology change the construction industry? Automation and data will streamline processes to create efficiencies that will cause ripple effects across the industry. Data collected can also be used to increase transparency and reduce conflicts between partners on complex projects.

“We have to set up the parameters at the start of the job,” suggested Bunmi Osazuwa MRICS. “Put everything on a shared drive for everyone to access so we have artificial intelligence giving us stats and there’s less opportunities to argue.”

Increased transparency through AI and data accumulation should be worked into contracts with thought about how jobs will be monitored, measured and executed. New standards, such as ICMS, set common metrics so companies can communicate performance and share data knowing that they’re measuring the same things the same way. Setting common metrics to communicate performance and share data will ensure contacts are about like-minded companies partnering for a shared vision.

“Humans like to stay in boundaries,” said Osazuwa. “If you set expectations, we stay in them. If boundaries are fuzzy, we have a problem.”

New technologies have the potential to break up the status quo in ways that are difficult to predict. Even so, there is hope that the new tools will create efficiencies that will be a boon to the industry if managed responsibly. It is in the management of technology and the application of due process that qualified surveyors and industry professionals will be required.

“No matter what the computer does, it’s you, the human who puts the data in,” explained Osazuwa. “You as a quantity surveyor (QS) will be needed to quantify how much material is put in the computer or the plan. You’re needed by the programmer because you have an understanding of construction and the process.”

Mike Davis MRICS, Principal at HKA Global acted as the moderator for the panel. He asked whether improvements in productivity due to increased adoption of high tech solutions will come at the cost of human involvement.

Panelists agreed that with automation, some repetitive tasks will be handled by machines but Allan Banks FRICS argued that the reduction of labour will be fine since it’s the jobs that we’re currently having trouble filling that will be replaced by automation.

The pressure to improve productivity through automation and other means is enormous, James Arrow FRICS pointed out. “Urbanization is increasing at a phenomenal rate. Infrastructure investment is needed. There’s huge opportunities to improve. Replace people? No. People can do other things - tech is a worry but its up to us to take action and shape the future.”

The RICS Summit of the Americas 2018 continues with six more stops in the region. Don’t miss this opportunity to be in the room with thought leaders as they discuss developments that impact your industry. Join us.

And join us in London for a very special World Built Environment Forum where global leaders will gather during our 150th year. Under the program title of ‘Our Changing World — Urbanisation, Innovation and Civilisation’, this Summit looks at the three driving forces of industrial transformation, urbanisation and digitalisation, and their profound impacts on the planet’s natural and built environment.

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