Construction News and Big Data

Remember your local "plan room", where bidders and suppliers would go to look at plans and specs for projects that were out-to-bid?  Not likely. This is year 33 APC (After Personal Computer), and news about projects in design, bidding, and construction moves at the speed of electrons.
File:DARPA Big Data.jpg
"'Big Data; refers to a technology phenomenon that has arisen since the mid-1980s. As computers have improved, growing storage and processing capacities have provided new and powerful ways to gain insight into the world by sifting through the infinite quantities of data available. But this insight, discoverable in previously unseen patterns and trends within these phenomenally large data sets, can be hard to detect without new analytic tools that can comb through the information and highlight points of interest." (Caption and image from DARPA)
Retrieving data from Reed Connect, Dodge Scan, and other construction news publishers may now move faster (if you have enough band width), the way we extract and process the data remains much the same as it was BPC (Before Personal Computers). And while The leading vendors of construction leads also publish databases of construction cost, product information, and detail drawings or models. Yet to a surprising extent, each type of information remains in its own, separate silo.

Other areas of our economy are increasingly shaped by Big Data - the interconnecting of databases so vast amounts of information can be tracked.  Construction, for many reasons, lags behind other industrial sectors.

I was asked to speculate on the future of Big Data in our industry. Here are some of the big link-ups that may effect building product manufacturers in the next five to ten years:
  • Virtual models of complete buildings and building components that can extract, analyze, and process building product data.
  • Integration of product "sustainability" information into the data base.
  • Further wrap-up of local and regional construction news to serve global markets.
  • Linking construction news to building operation and facility management data.
  • Connecting construction news into order-entry and construction project management systems.
  • Seamless integration from the cloud to mobile data platforms.
  • Integration of construction, fabrication, and logistical data.
These developments are already happening in bits and pieces, and there are plenty of incentives -- and risks -- for Big Data to bring the pieces together.

My list is not comprehensive. But like eating the proverbial elephant, the only way I can digest Big Data is one mouthful at a time.