When Orwell wrote about Big Brother watching, he may have been anticipating the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) – technology that connects every day objects to the Internet via embedded computing devices that send and receive data.
But as intrusive as it sounded back when that epic novel was written, IoT has become an increasingly important concept for many industries—not the least of which is construction.
Research firm IDC estimates that global spending on IoT devices and services will rise from $656 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. IDC believes that devices, which include modules and sensors, will account for 32 percent of that total.
It follows that, according to Forrester, some of the hottest areas for IoT growth will include security and surveillance applications, warehouse management applications and industrial asset management in primary manufacturing. In fact, General Electric predicts investment in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is expected to top $60 trillion during the next 15 years.
Construction firms employing IoT will find a wide variety of uses – from equipment monitoring to intelligent prefabrication, building information modeling (BIM) and construction management.
IoT Has Many Uses in Construction
The construction industry is beginning to see real benefits from IoT in what are commonly called telematics systems, which connect construction machines and equipment to project management and tracking software, enabling unprecedented efficiencies and better jobsite security.
Leveraging the IoT, telematics systems enable construction firms to monitor equipment using sensors and on-board diagnostics. Equipment owners can track idle time, location, fuel consumption and other factors, reducing equipment misuse and deterring theft. Such data can be transmitted back to central project tracking software for review and analysis.
Telematics enable predictive maintenance, as well—when sensors on the equipment detect performance abnormalities, they can trigger alerts to maintenance workers, so problems can be addressed quickly and before the equipment fails. This can save money and prevent project delays.
For firms interested in supporting green construction initiatives, IoT is extremely useful. Up to 40 percent of all solid waste in the U.S. comes from building projects; IoT can enable energy efficiencies by automatically shutting down unneeded systems, for example when a building is unoccupied.
IoT also brings new functionality to the jobsite that improves worker performance:
- “Smart glasses” can project specifications and instructions can keep workers productive while providing on-demand information to complete tasks. .
- Project managers can receive alerts when equipment is checked out or returned through a browser-based interface on their desktop or smartphone.
- Data can be transmitted back to analytics platforms and dashboards to help firms reduce downtime and maximize the ROI of their equipment.
High-Tech Surveillance Enables Security, Project Tracking
Last but not least, IoT technologies have numerous security applications. For example, simple IoT systems can detect movement or activate monitoring equipment, such as cameras. GPS enabled virtual fences can be programmed to detect if someone tire to operate equipment outside designated areas of the jobsite, and shut it down automatically. If the equipment is stolen, project managers can leverage embedded sensors to locate and hopefully recover it. These applications help to keep costs down and projects on-track.
Construction cameras, such as those provided by TrueLook, can leverage IoT to become business intelligence tools, accessible by any connected device through a browser interface. With this technology, project managers can remotely view jobsites, check construction progress and status, and obtain information critical to running projects smoothly. Cameras with IoT sensors can also be triggered by certain events to record or live-stream footage, for example, if an unauthorized individual enters a jobsite after hours.
The business implications of IoT enabled cameras include better security, informed decisions about project budgeting and schedules, and reduced risk.
Learn how TrueLook cameras can help streamline project tracking and management.