New tech will transform onsite data in 2021

The construction sector faces one obvious barrier to real “digital adoption”: getting online onsite is a nightmare. Every construction site needs internet access, but a cabled connection can be difficult or, on remote sites, impossible to get. And using slow 4G mobile internet is okay until someone needs to access a large file quickly – which, on a construction site, means people can’t access the plans they’re trying to build from.

Fortunately, 2021 will bring a revolution in onsite connectivity. New developments in the 5G network will enable mobile devices to download 100-200 megabits of data a second – much faster than the average UK wired connection at around 64 megabits per second.

And in areas that aren’t covered by 5G, there’ll still be faster 4G LTE speeds, as well as increasing 5G coverage over the next decade. And to boost connection between devices onsite, there’s now Wi-Fi 6, with streaming and upload speeds about 250% faster than Wi-Fi 5.

Together, 5G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi 6 will allow UK construction sites to get fully online and benefit from all the advantages of strong connectivity, from better onsite health and safety to lower environmental impact and increased productivity.

 

New design technology means being able to access large files like annotated BIM models or Revit files instantaneously onsite is a need, not a luxury. The new fast download speeds will make this possible over mobile networks, speeding up construction, cutting costs, and reducing the need for travel to and from site – which will also help cut carbon emissions.

They’ll also set the stage for another new technology: AI. AI is already taking on a significant role on construction sites, improving safety and security and monitoring machinery and traffic. New ideas in development include AI transport that only allows motion when it’s safe and AI CCTV cameras that can spot unauthorised personnel and even people incorrect PPE. AI can also boost energy efficiency by shutting down machinery that’s not in use.

This kind of AI involvement will only be achievable with full connectivity onsite to manage all the IoT (internet of things) devices, which are data-heavy.

And a final benefit of getting online onsite: internet networks set up on construction sites could then be leased to the owners of the finished building, creating a nice side profit for the contractors.