This is the Era of Connection. Today, everything is network-enabled and Internet-connected, from smart doorbells to fitness trackers, and this technology isn’t likely to slow down. By 2020, Cisco estimates that there will be more than 24 million devices connected to the Internet of Things.
What does this mean for the people that are building things like smart cities and interactive parking garages? What does the AEC industry need to prepare for in 2019?
To answer these questions, we joined global technology evangelist, Lynn Allen, for her recent webinar titled The Future of Building Things in Government where she explored what skills AEC industry professionals will need to help them manage the changes the Era of Connection is bringing. From revolutionized means of production, to changes in demand, Allen broke down the factors that will impact the digital design industry. Below is an overview of the top six technologies and trends that Allen predicted will impact the future.
BIM becomes the new standard: Every few years, a new disruptive technology is unveiled that revolutionizes how government agencies work and accomplish their missions.
Take AutoCAD for example, it was a major disruption when it was first introduced over 36 years ago. Now, it’s a software product that has withstood the test of time and was the first to offer users digital drawing. Everyone was drawing by hand, explained Allen, and had a difficult time adjusting to a digital model, but now, governments have mandated the use of AutoCAD solidifying it as AEC staple.
The next disruption we can expect to see involves the adoption of building information modeling (BIM). Some government agencies and organizations have already begun to use BIM for the AEC lifecycle, but necessary changes in software and processes have yet to follow. Expect that to change – and for BIM adoption to blow up – in 2019.
Population explosion and congestion concerns: Our population is growing, which means we will need more roads, bridges, and tunnels to accommodate the increase in people and traffic. Currently, according to Allen, there are about 7.5 billion people on earth and that number is estimated to grow to 10 billion by 2050.
That population growth will undoubtedly be reflected in the population of the United States and will certainly influence government building and infrastructure decisions. It will also force government organizations to reevaluate how they operate if they’re ever going to keep up.
“We would have to build 1,000 buildings a day and spend $3.3 trillion a year just to keep up [with estimated population growth],” said Allen. To accommodate this growth, pencil and paper design isn’t going to cut it. Innovation in design and project management will be crucial to ensure projects are completed as they should be.
Cloud puts the “C” in AEC: Technology has given us the means to complete projects faster and more accurately. The introduction of the Cloud changed the digital design world for the better. Being able to work anywhere and with anyone provides a level of mobile, collaboration that wasn’t possible before. “This is the most powerful aspect of the cloud,” said Allen while explaining how the Cloud streamlines workflows.
The Cloud also makes compute-intensive projects much easier than before. Instead of spending hours, days, or even weeks rendering a project, the Cloud can complete the process in sometimes less than a half hour. This once painful process has been made easy and accessible thanks to Cloud technology.
Augmented Reality brings plans to life: “Our software is getting smarter and starting to incorporate more artificial intelligence,” said Allen. With AI, the design options are limitless. One human plus AI algorithms plus cloud computing results in lots of design options that wouldn’t have been possible with just the human mind.
Augmented Reality is another trend that is transforming design. By adding digital information on top of reality, the user can see what a project will look like when completed and can even interact with things like doors and furniture inside the design. Both AI and AR will continue to innovate digital design.
The robot (and 3d printing) revolution: 3D printing has been used to tackle difficult construction problems, lack of staff, and lack of resources across the globe. For example, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art had a limited footprint in the crowded city but needed additional exhibition space. They were able to add 170,000 sq. feet of space by 3D printing 700 reinforced plastic panels that mimicked the original sandstone design and functioned to expand the top floors of the building.
This 3D printed façade is the first over four floors to pass fire testing.
A large part of 3D printing is robotics. In construction, robots can be used for things like bricklaying and can be run for 24 hours a day, cutting construction time. Firms who utilize these tools can expect to see decreased cost and shorter build times.
The Internet of Things: Perhaps the most important of all is the Internet of Things. By linking smart objects and sensors to the internet, the IoT enables AEC professionals to generate mountains of data that can be used in the AEC lifecycle to more accurately and effectively design and construct infrastructure and buildings. All the technology that Allen discussed needs network-connectivity to be successful. From BIM to AR, the Internet of Things is changing how people build things.
To watch the webinar, click here.