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Builders Embrace Big Data

There’s no question that the construction industry has entered the Big Data era. According to a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute, there are 51 petabytes of construction data currently in use worldwide. That’s a staggering 51 million gigabytes of data, but is comparatively just 6% of the data stored by government agencies. To catch up, the construction field has launched some very promising Big Data initiatives. 

Executives at Autodesk, a leading Building Information Management (BIM) software provider, estimate that material waste and rework account for 35% of a typical construction job’s cost. To curb those expenses, the company recently partnered with construction firm JE Dunn to create a real-time, data-driven predictive modeling system called LENS. The system combines Autodesk’s model-viewing technology with the JE Dunn estimating system to create custom visualization technology.

The LENS system allows all key stakeholders – architects, engineers, property owners and builders – to see every conceivable “what if” scenario and the predicted impact on cost and scheduling. This Big Data-guided collaboration is reportedly helping JE Dunn cut millions in costs and speed up construction by shortening the pre-construction phase.

 In the past, construction data was generally segmented at every step, so engineers weren’t sure they could build what the architects envisioned – and developers and builders were often blindsided by unexpected delays and cost overruns. But now, Big Data gives them the Big Picture because vast amounts of information can be stored, shared and updated in the cloud.

 In some ways, access to Big Data and analytic software is getting more affordable every year. Builders and developers can even do a free trial of IBM Watson®, the natural language system that rose to fame by beating all its human rivals on TV’s Jeopardy. Now, even small businesses can upload sales and CRM data and let Watson make an informed decision.

To learn more about how Big Data is transforming the construction industry, check out NAHB’s “Big Data for Builders” presentation from the 2017 IBS show.

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