The construction industry has had a tricky relationship with innovation. While it is well positioned to take advantage of technological advancements, it has been slow to adopt new technology, often choosing a reactionary approach over a progressive one. “In the past, regulatory changes drove a lot of innovation, forcing buildings to meet new requirements when constructed,” said Jono Millin, CPO and cofounder of drone mapping software developer DroneDeploy. However, he suggested that increasing costs, growing inefficiencies, a dwindling talent pool, and demanding clients are the new drivers for innovation. As a result, technology is finally replacing outdated workflows—saving time and money for construction management companies. In fact, Millin notes that construction was one of the top five drone adoption industry leaders in 2017. Today, drones are making it possible to conduct site safety checks before workers are on-site, catch design conflicts early, and track progress to site plans so that project managers can stay schedule. “Construction teams are using drones to generate collaborative maps and 3-D models, leverage data from high-resolution point clouds, and even create accurate contour maps,” Millin said, noting that industry leaders like Brasfield & Gorrie, Beck Group, and McCarthy Building Companies are using drones to improve safety and communication between the job site and headquarters. The recent proliferation of new models has driven down hardware prices, making drones an affordable investment. But beyond cost and necessity, the current most promising aspect of drone technology is its ability to provide real-time job site data to any mobile device. With the launch of Live Map earlier this year, DroneDeploy introduced a first-of-its-kind feature that gives drone operators real-time maps in the field on an iOS device. How It Works According to DroneDeploy, users plan a flight and take off. The maps can render on-screen during flight without the need for internet or cellular connection. With Live Map, construction professionals get an aerial view of their job sites, fields, or projects in seconds and instantly create maps, enabling them to make real-time decisions for better reporting, planning, and safety. “By producing a real-time map of a large construction or solar project, I can stay on top of site progress by counting solar arrays or monitoring progress,” said Ryan Moret, a field solutions manager at McCarthy Building Companies. “Live Map helps me end each day with confidence knowing where a project stands and what our subcontractors have completed so that we can provide the best product for our clients.” While the construction industry will see immediate gains from this technology, its potential in real-world applications is equally valuable and potentially life saving. Whether it’s coordinating disaster response or assisting authorities in locating missing persons, live drone mapping represents innovation at its best—and the construction industry is out in the lead for a change.
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Construction gone awry: crane driver accidentally extricates a house and causes car pile-up—or that's what the artists will have you believe
A house “mistakenly” unearthed from the soil by an inebriated crane driver hangs mournfully over a construction site in Karlsruhe, southern Germany. Torn roots sprout from its base to remind onlookers that it was once a happy home before its violent extrication. The hyper-real sculpture by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich is suspended above a market square, where construction for a new tram network is in full swing. While it might appear to critique the built environment and associated human errors, the model house is intended to challenge resident’s perception of construction as an eyesore and something “divorced from the natural world.” "Pulled up by the Roots highlights this tension,” Ehrlich told Dezeen. “As living beings on an ever-changing planet, we can never be apart from the organic world; the architecture that we create is part and parcel of our environment." Inspired by the historical architecture of Friedrich Weinbrenner, Erlich’s reality-bending art addresses global themes of uprooting and migration, but it’s also there to remind people that “underneath the tons of metal and concrete of our cities, a vital organic presence remains.” Therefore, the roots are a sign of life and not destructive intervention. Pulled up by the Roots is part of The City is a Star, a series of realistic sculptures installed across Karlsruhe to commemorate its anniversary. Another spectacle to behold is a comically bent truck by Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, whose rear wheels seem to be kicking off from the building behind it like a bucking bull. The artwork truck was recently slapped with a parking ticket, according to CityLab, but a report from KA News insists that the gag ticket was issued by a rare breed of city officials possessing a sense of humor, after the Center for Arts and Media (ZKM) publicly complained about having to pay the charges. The sculptures will be on view until September 27, 2015. Another satirical outlook on human foul-ups is a topsy-turvy pile-up of VW Beetles by Hans Hollein, titled Car Building. Were they also victim to the drunken crane driver’s clumsy hand?
Architects are probably the only people who like to see a construction site. We love to see building cranes, steel workers, and scaffolding—if only because it means architects are working and paying the rent. But for most urban dwellers these work places are "unsitely" disruptions to daily life and noisy irritations. Now Montreal’s Design Bureau, in collaboration with the city's downtown Ville-Marie borough and the Saint-Étienne Cité du Design (France), are launching an effort to correct this situation and asking architects for help. They will host a colloquium called "Unsitely! Leveraging Design to Improve Urban Construction Sites" on October 8-9, 2014. They are asking architects to submit proposals on how design can improve individual and collective experience, and the overall communication strategy of major worksites, or at least to contribute to reducing their negative impact on daily life. Architects (and others) should submit cases studies that address these issues by Tuesday, December 17, 2013. For additional information, contact colloquium executive producer, Laetitia Wolff.