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By Daniellé Giannico (Candidate Attorney)

7% of everyone employed in the global workforce works in a construction related industry. An estimated $10 Trillion is spent on construction related activities every year. People are responsible for managing this workforce and expenditure, usually in addition to other responsibilities.

The number one cause of death on a construction site is falling. People are the ones who must identify the risks and try to prevent them, often without having all the information.

What if there was a smarter way of doing things? What if you could have a dedicated “employee” who is completely focused on solving one problem with the absolute highest level of skill and accuracy? This is where Artificial Intelligence comes in. Below is a discussion of one of the ways that Artificial Intelligence is being used to revolutionise the way things get done on a construction site.

What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Th easiest explanation of what artificial intelligence (AI) is would be to say that AI is a computer or machine behaving in a similar way to a human brain; effectively a machine that performs human-like cognitive functions. It allows a computer to learn from experiences by analysing large amounts of data and identifying the patterns that can be found therein.

To understand exactly how AI works and how its wonders can be exploited in the construction industry, there are certain interrelated concepts that need to be understood, starting with machine learning. The terms AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably, but this is not entirely correct; machine learning is a subset of AI. The simple explanation is that machine learning is a machine that is programmed with a function, but which is also programmed to learn from the outcome and adapt its own programming as it “learns”. This learning takes place using what it is known as neural networks. Machine learning uses mathematical models created from the analysis of data in order to make decisions. In a nutshell, AI uses what is gained from machine learning in order to simulate human intelligence.

What is to be understood by the term neural network is that it is a type of machine learning that is made up of many interconnected units that act in a similar fashion to neurons in the brain. In this way data is passed from unit to unit where connections are eventually made. Deep learning takes this idea a step further by using massive neural networks in order to analyse equally massive amounts of data in order to learn incredibly complex patterns. Examples of the application of deep learning include speech and image recognition.

The last concept that is relevant to the task at hand is natural language processing which is a term that refers to the ability of computers and other machines to understand and analyse human speech and written human language, part of which includes the ability to generate an end result in human speech that will make sense to an actual human.

How Artificial Intelligence can be used in the Construction Industry to make working on site safer

As has been mentioned before, falling is the number one cause of death on a construction site. It is, unfortunately, far from being the only cause of accidental deaths on site. This is where software like Autodesk BIM360ᵒ’s Construction IQ comes in. Construction IQ uses natural language processing to analyse plans and text comments inputted into the Autodesk BIM360ᵒ software to warn the users of the software where potential risks that would otherwise go unnoticed may arise.

This software was developed by using the data collected from over 150 million construction sites globally. This data was used to train algorithms to predict where accidents on site were most likely to occur, allowing the human users of the software to plan so as to avoid these potential accidents. On a site in Ireland where this software was used, they saw a 20% reduction in quality and safety issues on the site.


More and more construction projects are moving towards using BIM software, especially in the design stages of the project. BIM stands for Building Information modelling and it is a process whereby 3D modelling software is used to more efficiently plan, design and construct buildings and infrastructure. The software allows architects, engineers and contractors to work together and share their plans in a single digital environment known as the common data environment.

In order for BIM software to be used effectively all parties involved in a construction project must make use of the same standards and working practices in order for the BIM modelling software to be able to combine all the different plans and designs across board. This is where what is known as a BIM Protocol comes in. It is a protocol that can be annexed to any standard building contract that sets out how data and information is to be shared in the common data environment and is binding on the parties to the building contract. On a project where BIM software is being used, making it a requirement in the BIM Protocol that software like Construction IQ also be used would go a long way to ensuring everyone on site is kept that much safer.