With news that construction technology is set to tackle modern day slavery head on, it’s becoming clear that innovation within the industry is no longer confined to the building site. Instead, technology is approaching wider issues around construction – much to everyone’s benefit.
In the 21st century, technology in construction has taken on a much wider scope than simply offering new approaches to long-held construction practices. Now, technology within the industry is setting out to challenge issues which affect the wider world, such as the environment, unemployment and education, and, of course, the modern day slave trade. In observing this trend, I’ve brought together a few examples to share with you, and to demonstrate just how the public – and the planet – are set to benefit.
Tackling Safety First
The first step we made towards construction technology influencing the wider world involved safety. From the invention of the hard hat to the many guidelines which dictate proper behaviour onsite, safety has been driven by new ideas within the industry for hundreds of years. Its most recent update onsite has come in the form of drones, employed to survey buildings and identify potential hazards.
But moving away from the physical dangers of being on site, technology has locked the wider safety of people in its sights – in particular, those affected by modern day slavery and exploitation. As Brexit uncertainty continues to loom over the industry and with demand heavily outweighing supply, construction firms have been forced to look further afield for contractors to help complete projects. This has opened the industry up to exposure to modern day slavery, with firms increasingly under pressure to stick to their principles and the law.
In an attempt to protect individuals and to help construction firms, Credas – a Cardiff-based tech company – has created its self-titled app, which uses facial recognition to ensure new hires are legally able to work in the UK, and are being hired ethically. With an estimated 10-13,000 modern slaves reportedly in the UK, and the construction industry known for relying on sub-contractors, it’s important for businesses to get this right in order to contribute to a fairer world – which Credas is enabling.
Protecting Our Environment
Swapping human safety for Earth’s continued survival, many types of technology in construction are now aiming to harmonise our relationship with the planet, all the while ensuring that people have places to work, eat, sleep and play. As our population continues to grow, so too does the demand for affordable housing and the trend for fashionable leisure environments. Unfortunately, this ultimately comes at the cost of green spaces and the atmosphere itself.
To tackle the industry’s impact on the planet, eco-friendly building practices and technologies have been introduced to ensure that demand for housing is met to minimal environmental effect. Pre-fabrication – a trend which is already set to define the industry in coming years – has many benefits, with sustainability ranking chief among them.
Not only are the pre-fab buildings themselves environmentally friendly and energy efficient, but the process by which they’re constructed can also boast the same. What’s more, by building sections offsite, extra materials can be recycled on location (rather than wasted), avoiding contributing to environmental decline.
Educating the Future
Construction technology has also found itself leaving the site and heading into classrooms up and down the country. It’s no secret that the industry is facing a skills gap crisis, but innovation within the construction community and beyond has seen technology rise to the occasion. A prime example of this is the marriage of tech and construction in the classroom by way of Minecraft, which I previously wrote about on this blog.
Not only does this application of construction-centric technology help the industry solve its own problem of shrinking talent pools, it’s also providing personal and professional development for a new generation.
Apprenticeships have already spent decades providing an alternative to traditional further education, and construction’s diverse innovations are now further demonstrating that not everybody has to follow an identical path – even if it’s within the same industry. Where young people once thought the industry was full of bricklayers, they’re now seeing technology specialists, surveyors, managerial roles; in short, much more variety. In the long-run, this provides young people with alternatives for future careers, and more choice in how their lives unfold.
Disrupting the Industry & Beyond
Construction is naturally an area which intersects with various other industries, and it fulfils many of our day-to-day needs. It’s natural, then, for the technology revolutionising the industry to spill over and help to effect change in the wider world.
As long-time providers of bespoke software to construction firms, Kaleida has seen this in action first hand, with our own software going some way to protect people, finances and processes both on and offsite. We’ve recognised as a team that construction technology is no longer just about automated bricklaying or new materials: people, the planet and the future are all being considered together. And that is how a single industry can build a better world.