Big Data in Construction

These days Data Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Artificial Intelligence are all catch phrases we hear very often in the media.

What these terms all reference, is the ability of machines to process and make sense of lots of data - Big Data – and this is influencing our lives in many ways.

It’s helping in the fields of GPS/navigation, marketing, healthcare, transport, agriculture - the list is extensive.  Big data is transformative, and it is here.

We have always had data - So what’s so special about now?

Two reasons:

  1. Technology platforms - It is much cheaper now to create, store and organise data than it ever has been. And consequently, we are creating more and more.
  2. Software - We now have better tools to manage data and create actionable insights. The data can tell us about what we are doing in ways we haven’t had access to before.

How does big data fit into construction and engineering?

Estimating Costs

With big data, we can quickly access historical cost records to allow us to create budgets and check prices for projects large and small. In addition, databases of supplier and subcontract rates can easily be called upon to build up prices using standardised methodologies and algorithms.

Managing Costs

Getting timely and cost data from the field allows managers and engineers manage construction costs by giving them accurate real-time costs to date. This helps identify problem areas that require urgent attention. Companies like SiteDiary specialise in this (

Internet of Things

Machines are getting smarter. We are now able to install sensors to monitor real-time fuel use, location, and machine efficiency. This leads to better utilisation of plant and equipment across many industries

Health and Safety

By recording and tracking trends in health and safety related events, we are able to create meaningful leading and lagging indicators on the effectiveness of company/industry practises. This greatly benefits society and workers alike


When we can easily and quickly create data about the work we do, it becomes easier to identify, track and deal with quality issues in a timely manner. This is especially true when it comes to setting service standards.

There are so many ways we can use data, both quantitatively and qualitatively to help improve what we do. If it can be measured, it can be managed, and I think we will start to see new and interesting ways companies use data to give them a competitive edge.

One thing you can be sure of is, is that big data is already touching your life. And it will continue to do so in bigger and bigger ways.

“The most valuable commodity I know of is information."  (Gordon Gekko, Wall Street)