Within the last year, the construction industry has kick-started its digital journey, as record activity, investment and innovation have resulted in a surge of cutting-edge, IoT-enabled solutions designed specifically for the construction industry. Faced with increased demand and a skilled labor shortage, contractors are asking about technology tools and how they can be implemented at the jobsite to save time and reduce risk. As jobsite tech matures and adoption increases, you will undoubtedly hear – if you have not already – about “construction IoT” and “construcTech” (contech for short). But what are they and what does it mean for contractors in the field?
What Is Construction IoT?
Construction IoT refers to the construction-specific “Internet of Things,” which is a network of interconnected devices that collect and transmit information in real-time. IoT is the digital infrastructure of sorts upon which drones, tracking equipment, wearable technology, and sensors rely and operate. In construction, IoT is still an emerging topic, as the industry still relies heavily on manual, legacy methods. Mobile applications, Cloud-based software, wearables, and sensors are all part of the construction IoT, which automatically collects information and feeds it to the Cloud, where it is accessible to anyone with a smart device and internet connection.
The IoT can look different across sectors, but the goal is always the same: to connect individuals with real-time, automatically collected data. Some examples of emerging IoT-enabled jobsite solutions including drones, sensors, autonomous vehicles, and even bricklaying robots!
The ConstrucTech Ecosystem
Constructech or “contech” is a shorthand abbreviation for anything having to do with construction technology. More important than defining constructech, however, is defining how it most commonly used. What do we mean when we discuss the “contech ecosystem” and why is it important?
The contech ecosystem is the larger system or world of jobsite technologies that leading contractors, change agents, and solution providers are building and growing in hopes of driving the industry forward. An ecosystem needs components – hardware and software, for example – to survive but it also needs people and interoperability and scalability across solutions.
Take the modern Apple ecosystem as an example. Across the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, to name a few, Apple has built an entire world with its own mobile applications, methods, processes, and “shorthands.” When someone enters the Apple ecosystem, they generally stay there since their music is synced to iTunes or their photos are stored in iCloud.
Similarly, the contech ecosystem refers to a vision where everything in construction is digitally connected in real-time. Just like the seamless user experience across different Apple devices, the contech ecosystem is defined by the ability to collect and aggregate data from a variety of sources – at scale. This ecosystem also includes humans, meaning it’s essential that contractors, owners, architects, equipment manufacturers, and insurers work together. Having and continuing to improve a solution’s API, or Application Programming Interface, will go a long way towards making these solutions truly integrated and enabling a safer, better, stronger future for the construction industry.
Building the Future
Construction companies that adopt construction IoT and champion the growing contech ecosystem are setting themselves up for success and helping to build the future. Download the 2017 JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report today to learn how more than 2,600 of your industry peers are approaching innovation, dedicated resources and budget, and approach emerging technology to build safer and smarter today and into the future.