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Internet of Things (IoT) is not a futuristic concept. Many homeowners boast of their homes as smart homes with appliances and devices connected to the internet. While many do not view the construction industry as technologically advanced, the IoT in construction is not as far off as we think. It is something that is achievable for many contractors. In fact, one of your teams may be working on a smart (i.e., connected) jobsite.
In its simplistic form, the IoT is the connection of devices through the internet. In a home, this can apply to appliances, lights, thermostats, smartphones, toys, and more! From your smartphone, homeowners can adjust their thermostats, turn on lights, and even ensure their nannies are taking proper care of their children. That’s what’s happening today, but the possibilities are truly endless.
The IoT is a giant network of connected things. Even people can connect to the IoT through wearables and smartphones. Gartner states that there may be over 26 billion connected devices by 2020.
As previously stated, if IoT is the connection of devices (including people), then this is already happening in construction. Many construction sites have internet connectivity to enable a connected job site. These are more than just fancy toys. Connected devices on jobsites provide a number benefits to the project, the companies, and most of all the employees.
Many field workers have smartphones. Frequently, many jobsites enforce strict rules on phone usage to maintain worker safety. However, many employees have downloaded safety apps, like a fall detector, that work in the background even when the phone is in use. This functions in the same vein as wearable device and notifies a set list of contacts in the event of fall.
There are several different wearables to improve safety. Some are separate devices that a worker wears. While some are embedded in personal protective equipment such as vests, helmets, and boots. They all function in the same way to monitor a worker’s vitals to prevent accidents before they happen.
With the data captured on the job site, everyone in the office benefits with real-time progress reporting. Some of the ways that stakeholders receive progress reports include electronic daily reports, data reported directly to the BIM, drone footage, or internet-connected video cameras. There are a plethora of internet-connected devices on the jobsite to feed data back to the office in real time. The real-time reporting allows stakeholders to gauge where the project is at and make any adjustments to keep the project on track.