3 Takeaways from BuiltWorlds Summit 2017

Last week, theWit Hotel in Chicago was host to BuiltWorlds Summit, a three-day event that gathered industry leaders from construction, architecture and design, engineering, real estate, finance, government, and technology to conduct collaborative problem solving for issues facing the built environment. Some of the biggest names in construction technology were on hand to talk about the challenges and opportunities planners and builders are encountering today.

Although the construction industry is well-positioned for technological upheaval, according to many speakers at the summit, one of the biggest challenges continues to be construction professionals who are slow to embrace modern solutions for streamlining workflows and improving data collection. For example, during his speech on accelerating innovation in AEC, Tom Scarangello, chairman and CEO of Thornton Tomasetti, asked: “Can we please stop making BIM our big innovation? … It’s twenty-five years old.”

Here are three other important takeaways from BuiltWorlds Summit:

Smart and Resilient Cities

City leaders are faced with increasingly challenging environmental, economic, and social demands. Aging infrastructure and re-urbanization have lead to new stresses placed on city systems. At the same time, weather-related and other natural events are more common and increasingly damaging. These challenges are being addressed through new technologies, methods of construction, and policy.

Aaron Koch, Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of Chicago, said: “Technology and data are now being used to inform policy and planning.” But Koch also noted that his department blends data and anecdotal insights from residents because, “data alone won’t get you there.”

Sensors, Cloud, and IoT

Increasingly complex buildings and the jobsites that construct them produce a growing amount of data that can be used to manage systems, increase efficiency, improve safety, and support a higher quality of life for end-users. This data is often generated via sensors that are integrated into different systems and distributed throughout the building. Forward-thinking contractors are setting new standards for innovation, creating programs to deploy new workflows, leveraging sensors and data to improve safety during the construction process, and integrating sensors and smart networks within completed buildings.

Chad Hollingsworth, President of Triax Technologies said mobile dashboards and wearable sensors are providing real-time visibility of job site safety while improving productivity. “The wearable not only includes a self-alert button that allows site personnel to report a trip or a fall as it occurs; it also allows them to instantly report site hazards that could trigger potential injuries.”

Intersection of Real Estate and Construction Technology

Because buildings are such a long-term asset their entire lifecycle needs to be considered during the planning stages. This includes how the building will be monetized by the real estate community. One of the panels dealt with the intersection of the construction and real estate communities. Instead of working as two separate functions, both industries see opportunity in increased collaboration.

Aaron Block, Managing Director of MetaProp NYC said he sees value in standardizing technologies between the industries, but sees the struggle companies go through in order to get adoption as an important mechanism in determining the best solutions. “To pilot and test is one thing, but it is another degree of difficulty to scale to the wider industry. Innovators need to go the hard route. If we play kingmaker, we disrupt the darwinian evolution that needs to take place.”

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