June 1, 2014 by DAVID BOWCOTT
We often take for granted the impact information technology and the Internet has had on our ability to accurately collect and analyze data. Through technology the world has managed to capture 2.8 zettabytes (ZB) of data. And what’s even more impressive is that by 2020 that amount will increase by 50 times. The goal is to harness this data and turn it into information, which in turn can be transformed into knowledge and from there into wisdom.
Not all of the data captured relates to the construction or asset management industries, however, there is a substantial amount. By interlinking this data, our industry could gain significant insight on how to more efficiently create and operate assets of all types.
I’ve had the opportunity to work on several complex projects over the years, and part of working on these has been identifying and quantifying associated risks—with a keen focus on those risks that could cause delays. What’s interesting to note from these risk identification and quantification sessions, is that all parties brought their own experiences to the table during the quantification phase of the discussion. Often their perception of what was a big risk was driven by anecdotal evidence—for instance, “We just had a pollution event on a job and therefore it is a major risk we could face on this job.” True quantitative analysis is often not used during the quantification phase of risk assessment for projects. By harnessing the data of our industry we truly have the opportunity to make sound decisions on risk knowing these decisions are made from a strong foundation of past experiences.
So where to start? There are several industries that have this data. The trick is gathering it, organizing it into a unified format, and interlinking the data in preparation for analysis. Some industries that house construction and asset management data include:
Once you’ve identified the key sources of data and developed the plan to mine and organize the data, you can then move onto the analysis. Imagine the potential outputs from such a data set.
Big Data applied to the construction and asset management industries could significantly improve certainty around project delivery and project operations. Over the next 5 to 10 years this data will be synthesized and its output will be made available to the market place. It will take away most of the voodoo currently used to quantify risk. Further, it will ensure the time you spend on treating risk is well spent as you are focusing your risk solution energy on risks that really do have the best chance of disrupting your asset’s performance.