National framework provider Pagabo has proposed the concept of a “black box for construction”: a central platform based on the principle of data sharing.
Pagabo intends to create this platform as a cloud-based system. Underpinning it is a community that “will work together as one, prompting better efficiency, safety and sustainability – and promote the sector as a desirable career outlet”.
The black box concept is the result of research by Pagabo head of innovation Charley Wainwright. The research paper, The collaboration transformation, focuses on the need for culture change in the industry. Achieving such a change could allow the black box concept to follow.
Speaking to BIMplus, Wainwright said: “Taking inspiration from the impact the invention of the black box had on aviation, we want to inspire a complete industry transformation. We want to take us to a culture of sharing and true collaboration and remove siloed efforts and any semblance of a blame culture.”
Agent for change
He added: “But how do we do it? How do we stop using ‘collaboration’ and ‘innovation’ simply as buzzwords and develop an action plan that can deliver our vision to use technology to reshape our approach to the built environment and beyond?
“Taking inspiration from the impact the invention of the black box had on aviation, we want to inspire a complete industry transformation.”
“How do we encourage our contractors, consultants, suppliers and clients to put competition aside and truly collaborate to allow for a deeper understanding and to develop into a force to be reckoned with? And how do we acknowledge that younger people do things differently and that traditional ways of working are not acceptable to them?
He said the survey found that a ‘black box for construction’ was a good idea to pursue, with 84% backing the idea. The remaining 16% felt there was a lack of clarity on how to construct a fair and equal data lake and how to overcome issues such as GDPR and commercial risk.
Every day raw data
There is no concrete timeline for the platform. Wainwright emphasised: “It’s the cultural change that’s needed first.”
Nevertheless, he was able to reveal a little detail of his vision: “[The platform would] look to share the raw data that contractors collect every day and use AI and machine learning to uncover best practice.”
Noting that the likes of the Get It Right Initiative, the Construction Productivity Taskforce and Construction Data Trust already exist, Wainwright said: “I think we’d dovetail with them – we don’t want to compete with them. Given our position, we can take an agnostic approach where we can talk to people on a level playing field.
“It’s the understanding of the potential benefits [of such a project] that is the initial message.
“The same old ways of working are going to stop working eventually, so we need to find new ways of working, being more data-led, more intelligent in our decision-making. This will lead to better practice, better safety and hopefully better profit margins, making construction a more enticing place to work.”
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