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Cloud Collaboration and Coordination
The real benefits of connected BIM in the future will be clear once people glimpse how cloud and mobile
technologies enable a completely new era of collaboration. Today, construction sites still use a lot of
paper to communicate. Beyond the obvious inefficiencies and huge costs, the real problem is that the
moment the drawings are printed, they are already outdated.
By using mobile technologies to manage drawings on construction sites—tracking and updating
information continually in real time—an inherent trust develops as far as who on the team did the what,
when, why, and how. Everything is tracked directly in the cloud for the entire project life cycle.
Connected BIM also helps manage risk on construction projects while enabling greater efficiency and
higher quality. It allows you to capture a ton of data and analyze it to optimize future projects.
For example, you could collect data that uncovers project delays when electricians and plumbers are
involved on projects. But if you unpack the reasons for those delays, you might realize that a plumbing
delay was caused by materials not being delivered on time or by ordering the wrong materials. Or it could
be that the work was done perfectly and on time, but it was finished before someone else needed to
punch holes in the walls where the plumber had already finished working. And that would mean bringing
the plumber back in to redo that work. A “plumbing delay” could encompass so many other factors, but
with the data, you can figure out how to better schedule plumbing and electrical work so they are called
in at the right time—keeping future projects on schedule.
Just Add VR and IoT
Another perk of connected BIM is that digital collaboration opens the door to virtual reality (VR), which
seems like some out-there feature until you see its practical applications. Think about how process
decisions and changes are currently handled via email. Now imagine you could explain what needed to
be changed at a site to a construction worker in a virtual-reality environment. You and the worker could
be in the same 3D environment—a fully immersive experience—seeing the same things instead of
explaining what needs to be done or reading it in an email. I think these kinds of immersive VR
experiences, once experienced, will quickly become the default way to communicate.
But the Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology that will truly redefine and recontextualize BIM. IoT
unlocks the performance potential of construction sites. Today, there can be people, machines, and
materials located onsite or offsite, but it’s hard to know how these things connect and whether they are
Yet once construction sites are equipped with all kinds of sensors, it will be possible to understand where
people spend their time, how machines are used, and if the materials have been delivered or installed.
All this information will be captured and aggregated on a dashboard in the cloud. The Big Data can then
be analyzed to start identifying trends about what’s working—or not working.
Once this technology is used on one, 10, hundreds, or thousands of projects, it will be clearer to
stakeholders why some projects go well and others don’t. But if you expand it beyond that, it gets even
more interesting. A bunch of companies—such as  Redpoint Positioning , Pillar Technologies, and Human
Condition—are using sensors to capture information and show how people behave on a construction
Human Condition understands how people carry loads or climb ladders, and it can analyze if they are
maintaining proper form for these actions. Using data, it can actually predict if workers will be injured in
the future, based on whether they bend too much or the wrong way too many times. And, again, if you do
that across tens of thousands of construction workers in the world, it will be possible to prevent injuries
from happening in the first place.
When you see how this connectivity impacts every facet of a construction site—improving the efficiency,
safety, and cost—it’s not even a question of whether the industry will move in this direction, only how