Many industry experts have been buzzing about the concept of Big Data and how it is changing the construction project process. Big data refers to extremely large data sets that are analyzed to reveal patters, trends and associations. It is often talked about in terms of the four Vs:
Volume– the quantity of data available.
Velocity– the speed in which this data is pouring in and in which the data can be processed.
Variety– the range of sources that data comes from and formats that data is delivered in.
Veracity– the integrity of the data.
The amount of data that is pouring in and the increased ability to access and store the data has significant impact on the construction industry. The process of building a building is extremely complex and involves many project team members (who often have conflicting goals) who use different sets of data in different ways. However, all of the data is linked together and impacts the project in specific ways. Until recently, accessing and analyzing this data was nearly impossible. But Big Data is changing that.
Tony Bennett, senior industry strategist of civil infrastructure at Autodesk explains, “Big data allows us to start with a problem at the beginning and let the information and big data figure out what the solution is. You tell it what it needs to solve, and it does the horsepower.” He further articulates that Big Data allows for the experimentation of new concepts and ideas and will confirm success or failure. Being able to assure that a design will function correctly, as a result of proven data analytics, changes the way architects can design buildings, engineers can put all of the pieces together and contractors can build the building.