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Q&A: Why contractors are adopting IoT technology (Includes interview)

These are the findings from a new survey titled “Using Technology to Improve Risk Management in Construction SmartMarket Insight.” To gain a greater insight into the main findings, Digital Journal spoke with Pete Schermerhorn, President and CEO, Triax Technologies.

This is a follow-on article from “Q&A: Contractors adopt IoT to lower insurance premiums.”

Digital Journal: What types of technologies are helping to transform construction?

Pete Schermerhorn: A wide range of technologies are transforming the construction industry. While tablets, other mobile devices and software have been in use, new Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are enabling the construction industry to automatically capture valuable field data from workers, equipment, tools and the environment, and send this data to the Cloud in real-time. This new connected jobsite enables greater safety of workers, while improving visibility, boosting communication, streamlining reporting and enhancing decision-making.

DJ: How mature is the construction industry in terms of digital transformation?

Schermerhorn: While we’re still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to widespread adoption, tremendous progress has been made in the last 12-18 months. We’re starting to see tech move from a handful of pilot sites to fully deployed and standard operating procedure for major construction firms.

DJ: What types of site risks exist with construction sites?

Schermerhorn: Construction sites are full of inherent risks. Managing a chaotic jobsite with multiple subcontractors, equipment and tasks poses substantial operational, human and financial risks, and the industry is looking for ways to identify and mitigate these risks with new technology tools and data insights.

DJ: How can IoT technology assist with addressing these risks?

Schermerhorn: IoT enables increased visibility, security, safety and communication. This includes visibility into what’s happening at a contractor’s project site, such as who can get onto the jobsite and where they’re located inside, as well as where equipment is located and who is using it. Wearable devices can detect and document worker falls, provide tools for workers to report hazards/signal distress in the field, and communicate the need to evacuate in real-time, from anywhere on the site.

DJ: What are the leading types of connected technology?

Schermerhorn: Wearable devices and sensor technology are becoming increasingly popular. Our Spot-r IoT-based platform was built with a proprietary communication protocol that enables contractors to connect their jobsites without WiFi connection or GPS coverage and capture real-time data from assets on site. As more data is collected through these connected technologies, we will continue to see increased safety and productivity gains, which will drive further adoption.

DJ: Are there any cybersecurity concerns?

Schermerhorn: Cybersecurity should be a concern for all companies today, regardless of the industry. As technology becomes more widely used, contractors need to educate themselves and adopt basic cybersecurity practices, such as strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. It’s also important for them to ask their tech providers about their security practices, such as how data is transferred and stored.

DJ: Are there limitations with IoT technology that you’d like to see overcome?

Schermerhorn: IoT holds great promise which is only now being realized, and will continue to increase as the ability to store, enrich, analyze and more effectively use the data generated improves. As revealed in the Dodge Data & Analytics/Triax Technologies Using Technology to Improve Risk Management in Construction SmartMarket Insight report, contractors are eager to adopt IoT for all of its safety and security benefits but also as a means to reduce insurance premiums, since the study also found that insurers agree that real-time site monitoring can have a high level of potential for reducing risk onsite. Contractors, however, still need guidance on how to best utilize IoT, especially when it comes to reducing risks.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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