Can we harness the IoT for construction too?

The "Internet of Things" makes brings your household appliances online. How can we utilise this technology for Construction?

You won’t find me queueing overnight to get my hands on the latest smartphone, but I do appreciate modern tech, especially if it makes life easier. The UK government has grasped, in its rather vague way, that IT is important so has committed several millions of pounds to the developoment of the Internet of Things.

I am sure there aren’t many MBS readers who haven’t come across the IoT yet. And most businesses are now utilising the cloud for some aspect of data transfer, file sharing or storage which is accessible from staff smart phones and laptops.

The IoT has some way to go before we get there. IBM estimates that more than a billion connected devices make up today’s IoT, but we should expect hundreds of billions more. They refer to this as a ‘threshold of transformation.’ 

It is difficult to say how IoT will affect the construction industry, but it looks as though we need to start thinking about it now. Some sectors such as banking, hotels and airlines have been able to embrace technologies for online transactions and bookings. They have benefited from mobile internet access as well. Can the construction industry find a way to harness technology to save time, offer clients a better service and save costs too?

Perhaps Building Information Modelling (BIM) will be a stepping stone. Sharing information quickly on an open platform is at the heart of BIM, so we may see a time when clients can track the progress of their project build. Or O&M manuals are designed automatically as the project progresses, and offer user guides for building managers that they can view on their tablet.

Whatever is going to happen could open up opportunities for construction and building services. Anyone who manages a company in our sector should start thinking about the possibilities today – because you can never quite tell when we’ll be over that threshold of transformation.

(If you are interested in reading the IBM report, then you can find it at:

Karen Fletcher is Director of Keystone communications. 

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