Home » AI ‘one of the most pervasive technologies’ affecting construction – RICS

AI ‘one of the most pervasive technologies’ affecting construction – RICS

by Liam Turner
Construction workers looking at computer screens

Artificial intelligence (AI) is “one of the most pervasive technologies” affecting the construction industry today.

That’s according to the first annual ‘Tech Partner Programme Survey’ from RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), which found that AI, in various forms, is having at least some impact on nearly all areas of the industry.

While the report highlights the many use cases of AI – such as for AVMs, customer chatbots, and for modelling different scenarios – it says the technology “comes with a degree of responsibility for businesses”.

The report – produced by surveying over 170 members of the RICS Tech Partner Programme community – warns that firms should be particularly aware of issues around governance and security.

The report also highlights the “strength” of AI in the world of data analytics, saying the technology is playing “a vital role” in turning datasets of all sizes and varieties (that a human being would struggle to interpret) into information that enables decision support and modelling.

Sharing of data is also critical to AI success in some cases, the report says, adding that issues around data standards, data sharing, and data quality shows a need for consolidation and a recognition that standards need to work on an international basis.

The report reads: “Data if collated will have huge value to firms, governments, and society at large – but with so much land and property data stored in silos, in document form, and in many cases simply absent and uncollected, this task will undoubtedly take time and effort.”

Elsewhere, RICS highlighted the digitalisation of the built and natural environment, which its survey found is being driven by the emergence of ‘PropTech’, and by various demographic, economic, and behavioural trends – along with with the threat of climate change and the continued legacy of the pandemic.

Land, real estate, property, and infrastructure are challenged by these changes, the report says, adding that data and technology form part of the solution “that the sector must adopt”.

ESG, efficiency, and cost savings are seen as the most significant drivers for the adoption of new technologies, the survey found.

Compliance and competitive pressures also feature significantly in the survey’s results.

Barriers to tech adoption

Moving to the sector’s “slow” adoption of new tech, RICS says the survey demonstrates that barriers continue to exist.

Most of these barriers are due to deficiencies in change management, culture, skills, and leadership – and not a lack of data and tech, according to the survey

Just over half of respondents to the survey remain optimistic about the levels of investment in data and technology being maintained, despite the recent shift in interest rates and other macroeconomic factors presenting challenges to the sector.

The author of the report, Andrew Knight, who serves as the Global Data and Tech Lead at RICS, said: “This report emphasises the potential of fully digitising the built and natural environment.

“Achieving increased digitisation will address the crucial challenge of sustainability and improving diversity across the profession, highlighting the critical importance of property professionals working together to develop and implement data and technology solutions right across the property lifecycle.”

Image credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Read next: The construction industry’s perception problem

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