19. April 2021 | Images: iStock, Sunrise
Digitalization comes with massive untapped potential for the construction and real estate industries. The industry is still in the beginning stages. Seamless connectivity with 5G and well intermeshed and documented collaboration are requirements for connected construction sites and smart buildings.
Switzerland only gets 4.2 out of 10 possible points in the current Digital Real Estate Index from consulting company pom+. This above all shows: Switzerland still has a long road ahead of it when it comes to digitalization. On the other hand, this also illustrates that the available potential is far from exploited. The construction and real estate industry is no exception, with many stakeholders still at the beginning stages of their digital journey. There are various reasons why digitalization is not forging ahead as quickly as in other industries.
One of these factors in the high initial costs incurred with digital construction and connected building management. A lack of resources and know-how also slows the pace. And last but not least, digital transformation always has a cultural component – it depends on the acceptance that accompanies it.
PropTech startups provide the digital toolbox
Innovative PropTech startups – which in the case of ConReal already constitute an entire ecosystem – offer those parties involved, including SMEs, the tools and support they need to digitalize their business with the lowest possible effort and manageable costs. Open interfaces safeguard communication between the various solutions and make a major contribution to one of the most serious challenges facing the industry: great complexity, complicated by the strong fragmentation of the construction process.
Numerous parties are involved in every construction process: from modest craftspeople up to large construction companies and property managers. All parties generate vast quantities of data that frequently go unused. To make sure all the pieces of the data puzzle fit together, any digitalization project must be approached across parties, already be initiated during building planning and maintained over the entire building lifecycle.
A massive puzzle of unused data
BIM lays the groundwork of a construction as the central database. This is what next-generation buildings, so-called smart buildings, build upon. Not only the construction plans, but also any fitted sensors, used materials and their prices are seamlessly documented digitally. If this information is available to all parties involved in the construction and management of the building in real time, this opens up a range of completely novel applications – also with the help of PropTech companies.
Examples include augmented reality applications, making pipes and sensors in the building visible during maintenance work, or surveys with drones, data-driven construction logistics and quality assurance with image analysis. In the utilization phase of buildings, IoT sensors play a growing role; allowing, for example, new services for inhabitants or efficient energy consumption. The benefits of these digitalization applications all along the lifecycle of the building justify the higher initial costs.
No innovation on construction sites without connectivity
The more devices, materials and persons are connected on the construction site and within buildings, the greater the data flow. One requirement is the connection of people and machines through a modern communication infrastructure, allowing them to use these vast data quantities in real time. To ensure connectivity, it pays off to connect construction sites through technologies such as 5G and IoT standards. For example, Sunrise offers an IoT platform to manage connected machines. The platform also has solutions to temporarily equip construction sites with fast Internet that can easily be activated without having to lay any lines.
Smart buildings need connectivity that grow with them
Therefore, it is indispensable to design buildings in an «IoT-ready» manner, if one wishes to implement new digital applications all along the building lifecycle without extensive retrofitting. There is an associated need for comprehensive solutions that bundle various wireless standards together in a single source – whether this concerns 5G or IoT standards, such as Narrowband-IoT, that also guarantees reliable and energy-efficient data transmissions in shielded parts of the building. This is why Indoor Coverage as a Service (ICaaS) is the future of building connectivity.
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