Handling Big Data in the Construction Industry

Big data in construction comes from two primary sources. Business documents such as plans, specs, contracts and regulations make up one bucket, and physical data collected by drones, stationary or handheld recording devices and, increasingly, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, are the other.

AI apps apply a technology called machine learning, which allows them to glean insights directly from data to make more accurate determinations and predictions. This advancement has significantly expanded AI’s capabilities.

A unique use case for AI was announced this past April by Ottawa-based Giatec Scientific Inc. The firm designs and manufactures specialized IoT sensors that are installed in concrete and report real-time information on variables such as curing status and strength through a cloud-based interface.

“We’re now getting that data on a worldwide basis, and nobody has been able to collect this much data from concrete quality and performance in one place,” says Aali Alizadeh, Giatec’s co-founder and chief product officer. “So with millions of data points collected from SmartRock sensors in different jobsites, it was time to move to the next step and generate even more value from big data and give that value back to the end users.”

Collaborating with the Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms (MILA), the Giatec team developed a machine learning app nicknamed Roxi. The big leap is that Roxi can make useful predictions, such as how strong concrete will be in the days after the pour, what impact temperature and other conditions are likely to have, where anomalies exist in concrete curing and hardening, or when heaters can safely be turned off to save energy.

Roxi is also integrated with the construction management app Procore through that company’s open API. “Project managers deal with a lot of information to optimize their schedules, and our sensors are one piece of the puzzle,” says Alizadeh, “With the integration, they don’t have to leave the dashboard if they want to see the sensor data and open our app. They can get automated notifications and alerts as well.”

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