Big data and AI: the building blocks of the future of engineering

Artificial Intelligence concept. Creative brain concept background

Originally Printed in Civil and Structural Engineer

Construction is one of the largest industries in the world, employing around seven percent of the world’s working age population. At this scale, it is no surprise that the sector generates huge volumes of data on a daily basis; from field data captured by drone, to reports and contracts, data is continually being gathered from multiple sources but is frequently unstructured and difficult to access. Through necessity, contractors, engineers, and suppliers have pivoted to working and collaborating digitally – using video calls to host meetings, site visits, and transact business, further increasing the amount of data being generated. However, 96 percent of data from infrastructure projects is not used and 90 percent of engineering and construction industry data is unstructured. 

Big data – extremely large, unstructured datasets that can be analyzed by computers to reveal patterns and trends – is one of the most valuable commodities in the construction industry, enabling firms to improve cost effectiveness and operational efficiencies, while reducing business risk. In fact, analysis of big data increases a business’s chance of making better strategic decisions by 69 percent, so the desire to harness the power of big data is understandable – but the question is how?


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