Hassan Hachem: AI is one the future of construction
The potential of artificial intelligence seems to be the subject of important discussions between the manual
trades and the technical circles. Everyone - whether they're merchants in your
neighborhood, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or the Tesla inventor Elon Musk -
seems to have an opinion on how Artificial intelligence (AI) can, or will,
change our daily lives. For the construction industry, the question is how
today's AI technology will impact the construction of tomorrow.
A few years ago, artificial
intelligence was just a tale in science fiction novels. Today, it is a reality
that touches us every day, from our news feed to our online shopping software.
AI is no longer a whimsical concept of the future. It is something we live and
Artificial intelligence has
unlimited potential and its benefits are reflected in all industries; its
convenience and usefulness pervade our daily lives. The launch of autonomous
cars by the automotive industry is synonymous with faster transport and a
considerable reduction in accidents and polluting emissions. In the construction
industry, precursors use technology to increase the efficiency, safety and
quality of construction.
Artificial intelligence is a
generic term describing a machine's ability to mimic human cognitive functions,
such as problem solving, learning and pattern recognition. AI is capable of
machine learning, algorithms feeding a machine to enable it to learn from the
data it encounters. The machine improves its understanding of things and its
thinking as it is exposed to more and more data.
At a time when massive
amounts of data are being created every day, AI is exposed to inexhaustible
resources to learn and adapt to everyday life. If you look at the construction
industry alone, the data generated on construction sites increases. Data
generated from images captured by mobile devices, drone videos, security
sensors, building information modeling (BIM) and more is now a reservoir of
information. The construction industry has adopted data entry technology. The
challenge now is to put in place a system that manages all of this captured
information to enable both construction professionals and customers to make the
most of it.
Hassan Hachem a construction
industry veteran accentuates “for first-time users in the construction industry,
AI programs provide accurate data and approaches that enable contractors to
optimize site safety, value and productivity”. Companies such as Skanska and
Arup, for example, are using a management platform that uses AI to sift through
a huge database of images and videos taken on a construction site to identify
potential hazards. Their software uses image recognition algorithms to identify
specific search criteria, such as safety vests, helmets, and high-visibility
colors to filter images of workers who do not wear safety gear appropriate and
could violate safety instructions. In a short time, the results of the research
can be collected and sent to the site supervisor - a usually difficult task that
would take hours to complete.
Hassan Hachem follows up:
“some manufacturers are exploring emerging technologies and how they can
increase jobsite safety”. From this exploration came an operator assistance
program that uses AI algorithms to detect and decrypt specific objects using
computer vision methods. The system can alert the operator with a warning
message and reduce the risk of an accident. In addition to increased safety, AI
can perform repetitive and dangerous labor-intensive tasks. Artificial
intelligence programmers say it can help inexperienced machine operators
accomplish complex tasks. They are convinced that this is particularly useful in
the construction industry where it is relatively difficult at the moment to find
highly qualified operators.
Men vs machines
Many people are worried about
losing their jobs because of the automation of an increasing number of tasks.
However, the experts claim that the Issuing to AI is not as scary as the science
fiction stories suggest. Automation and automated machines are only part of the
evolution. At the time of the first hydraulic machine, people expressed the same
concern. However, with the change, new opportunities have come up. Experts
believe that the same goes with the advent of artificial intelligence. The use
of AI will be slow and constant, but when automation and machinery are applied
to construction, new jobs will have been created to strengthen and complement
them. Robotics: salvation for the labor shortage in construction. Steve Muck,
CEO of Brayman Construction Corporation, believes that robotics can be the
solution to the US labor shortage in the construction industry. According to
him, the last ten years have been difficult to find workers. Thanks to its
robotic rebar bonding solution, it has saved a lot of time while reducing the
injuries caused to workers by this work.
A major technological shift
where digital data will play a big role is already happening.
Hassan Hachem warns “this
will pose great challenges for architects, engineers, contractors and managers.
As the demands become more complex and methods progress rapidly with the arrival
of new technologies, the field of construction will undergo major
transformations in the years to come”.
Greater urban density
By 2050, more than two-thirds
of the world's population will live in cities. Montréal is already preparing for
this eventuality, with plans to integrate 100,000 new residents in the downtown
area by that date, mainly through the conversion of underutilized or unoccupied
These kinds of measures will
push metropolises to integrate development models that are much more efficient
in terms of infrastructure and promote the quality of life of their citizens. We
can already observe, with the emergence of new approaches related to sustainable
development in the development of our cities - such as Smart Growth, new urban
planning, green urban planning, eco-districts or Transit-Oriented Development
(TOD). ) -, a desire to create a pleasant living environment, but allowing a
greater density of population.
Yet this requirement leads to
a complexification of urban planning; we cannot build anymore to answer only a
simple request. In addition, the fight against climate change and the use of an
increasingly restricted space require sophisticated design tools.
Development of data use
The arrival of BIM (Building
Information Modeling) in recent years has transformed the design, construction,
operation and management of buildings. In short, BIM is both a software, a
database and a process for collaboration between stakeholders, be they
contractors, architects, engineers or managers.
By providing a unified
version of the projects, based on standardized technical and functional data,
the BIM prevents construction defects in progress. Once the project is
completed, it also makes it possible to control technical incidents or
breakdowns occurring in the operation of the building.
By quantifying, even after
construction, various aspects of a building such as infrastructure, water or
energy systems, traffic, waste, noise, etc., we come to better design the next
projects. In addition, the BIM also connecting the buildings themselves, can now
make a digital model of a neighborhood, even a city, thus facilitating
decision-making in urban planning.
Daily habits will also
influence how to design the homes of tomorrow. With the Internet of Things, the
most mundane items, such as your refrigerator, your washer, your TV or the
little vacuuming robot, emit data about their use . In addition, with home
automation, most electrical objects can now be managed by software that,
obviously, will produce data on its users. These can not only facilitate the
management of homes, but also offer solutions for the construction or
redevelopment of buildings.
Data from a dwelling or
office space can affect the design or redevelopment of a building, which will
have an impact on that of the neighborhood, which in turn will better design the
city. The connectivity of the different sets will therefore lead to a more
efficient energy management of the movements as well as the space used .
All these data, on the other
hand, leave the designers with an excessive number of information, without still
being able to profit from method or tool facilitating the decision-making. The
current ways of doing things will have to leave room for methods linking all the
parameters using a system that calculates them itself . This is where
artificial intelligence comes into play.
It must be understood that
artificial intelligence is only a system devoted to mathematical and logical
tasks from parameters pre-established by the designer. What distinguishes
artificial intelligence from conventional software is its design according to
the deep learning approach, where the system has the capacity to improve based
on previous experiences. This approach has already brought us technologies like
Siri and will soon allow the arrival of autonomous cars on our roads .
This technology will be able
to perform many tasks, currently performed by humans, in addition to performing
them more quickly. Without designing buildings instead of architects, artificial
intelligence will be able to recognize problems before they occur and better
judge the quality or effectiveness of a design. Solutions saved in the past can
also be integrated into new projects 
The exponential increase of
digital data will require a new management system. It will no longer be
sufficient to design and build buildings, but it will also be necessary to
manage the flow of information produced by the building itself as well as by its
occupants. This may be useful not only for building new buildings, but also for
collecting a new resource that may be of interest to other partners.
If this data came to have a
more than appreciable value, one could even assume that, in the future, the
promoters would reap more benefit to livelihoods in the homes than to sell them
or rent them the physical good . It would be premature, however, to come to such
It can be argued, however,
that the construction and real estate markets will undergo major transformations
in the years to come. Actors working in these areas will have to remain
attentive to innovations that could accelerate and greatly affect those who
cannot adapt to them.