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The term “big data” sounds a bit ominous and you could confuse it with something scary. However, since you’re reading this as my latest in a series on technology in construction, you won’t be surprised to learn that big data does indeed have the potential to be useful. To demystify it, “Big Data” means the huge amounts of data that development projects now generate and store. So it’s not a new concept – development projects have always had tons of data in the form of specifications, drawings, and plans, not to mention the data stored in documents like contracts, letters, and emails.

So what exactly is New? Storage is now cheaper and the ways to analyze the data are more accessible. This means developers, contractors, and everyone else in the supply chain can use this data to make improvements – even before the land is even bought. These can include:

  • Location and layout: Draft documents for previous developments, weather and historical data can help to influence these things.
  • budget: Analysis software can examine the similarities between developments to understand how events in the field are likely to affect the final cost of a project. This can help make more reliable estimates.
  • safety: An insight into the circumstances under which security incidents are most likely to occur. This allows stakeholders to adjust their policies and practices to minimize these incidents. Software can provide updates as the work goes on, and this can include weather conditions.
  • Sustainability and waste reduction: Big data enables those involved in the supply chain to estimate the required quantities of material more precisely. The more precise these calculations are, the less waste there is at the end of a development. Designers will also have the tools to design more energy efficient buildings.

Even if you just look at this short list, there is no doubt that this technology has the potential to be extremely valuable to developers, contractors, and everyone in the supply chain. However, as with all advances, there are risks to be considered. I will examine these in my next post.

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. Expert advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstances.

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