Building connections: the Internet of Things and construction

18 January 2019 11:02 AM | #Business Resources

There is a lot of talk about the “Internet of Things”, or IoT. But what does that actually mean – and what does that mean for the construction industry?

The Internet of Things is the term used to describe the networks of objects and systems with embedded sensors, software and network connectivity that allow those objects to collect data and share it. The purpose of all of these sensors is to improve efficiency, productivity, and the user experience – reducing delays and costs along the way.

During the construction process: 

Buildings can be made into smart buildings by installing IoT devices and sensors to operate throughout its lifetime. IoT devices can monitor operating conditions, usage, and the physical state of the building. Sensors can monitor and build predictive models of e.g.: 

The data can be used both to improve future projects and to assess and improve the performance of the building and the experience of the building’s inhabitants.

With the data from the IoT, facilities can be managed proactively, rather than reactively. Smart products can self-analyse data and decide when a system needs servicing, so the facilities managers’ role becomes more executive. For examples, the system may flag when a service is required, but the facilities manager decides when to implement that recommendations, after consultation with the building’s users. The Internet of Things may provide Artificial Intelligence, but the facilities manager has to provide the emotional intelligence.

The facilities management role is often outsourced, which can lead to individuals working alone and in unfamiliar locations.  Lone worker technology, including GPS, RFID and satellite devices, messaging, and alarm systems can help FM companies keep track of their workers and ensure their safety.

There are, however, very real challenges in implementing and engaging with the Internet of Things, whether in a smart building or otherwise: 

It’s almost easier to describe what the Internet of Things can’t be used for than what it can – but as with all things, the underlying issues have to be considered carefully, particularly when there are multiple parties involved.