Construction in year 2030

Last November, I wrote (post) about a SCRI report on the future of construction ICT, which put collaboration at its heart. That message has been reprised in a paper by Carl Abbott, Bilge Erdogan and Ghassan Aouad just published by the Royal Society: Construction in year 2030: developing an information technology vision.

Section 4, A glance at the future, builds on discussion of four different scenarios – some optimistic, some more pessimistic – and presents a vision for ICT built on four strands: people, processes, technology and places:

The construction industry is supported by tools and technologies which are fully compatible, developed using open standard software and that put people at the centre of focus, thus enabling creativity, creating integrated business processes that are consistent and compatible; and facilitating less geographically dependent ways of working.

The discussion incorporates a view of ICT that enables construction professionals to focus on what they do, rather than how they do it, and (something to excite my friends in facilities management and connected environments, eg: Pachube) anticipates the emergence of ‘intelligent buildings’:

“… it will be possible to manage self-healing/self-correcting buildings through embedded sensors in the buildings. Smarter management of facilities and construction spaces that is responsive to people and their behavioural preferences will be seen as a result. Rather than sending maintenance people to check whether there is any problem, intelligent built environments will automatically detect the problems. Cutting down carbon, energy and cost of climate will be possible through IT systems that enable user-centred design and intelligent built environments to provide a better future for people.

“Intelligent or semi-intelligent software will improve themselves through automated double-loop learning facilities based on evidence from the actual use of buildings in operation.”

The vision also talks about ideas that are already being investigated by firms like Daden (who are using Second Life for something similar – post)

“IT will be used to train people in any area they need to be trained. Learning will be achieved through games and role plays. For example, site inductions providing a walkthrough in three-dimensional site models. Rather than sitting in a porta cabin and trying to work out which activity needs to be carried out when and where from a blueprint, the information will be accessed much more easily and intuitively through these techniques.”

Thrilling stuff – if (and it’s a big IF) the industry has the foresight to bring it about!

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