fi en
Digital Data Collection at Construction Site

People & the reliability of data

Author: Tuomas Hakulinen
Published: 10.3.2021

It’s been a good start to the year for us working people, despite Covid-19! The new normal, that is, working from home and the importance of digital connections, has even pushed the digitalization of the construction industry forward. But there is still work to do in onboarding people in the process.

I ran across these notes from a workshop on the future of construction. The discussion had been around the current status and future hopes of the industry. The workshop handled topics like how to improve real-time situational awareness, what are the weakest links in the current situation and what should improve for data to become reliable and leading with data to happen in real-time.

For an ordinary man like myself, I found it awkward, if not even scary, how much mistrust there was towards data produced by people. The reliable data in the future was seen to be produced by robots and automation, not people. However, the insight of responsible site managers was seen even more reliable than the undeniable facts product by automation. Also, there were wishes set for involving subcontractors in planning, and the daily or worker level scheduling was actually seen as a job for the subcontractors. Not the main contractor. The workshoppers wanted real-time information from the subcontractor, the workers that is, on how the work is progressing and if there have been any roadblocks along the way. This was rather wanted in writing, as written or saved data is always seen more reliable than an update called out in the corridor.

Why do ”we” keep asking how to make ”them” use digital tools and follow the process?

I find this a superb summary on how people still don’t build together. The workshop views represent the main contractors’ views, but why should it be different from the workers? Why do ”we” keep asking how to make ”them” use digital tools and follow the process? Why is the data produced by ”them” unreliable? And how come planning wouldn’t be ”our” job?!? You know, because the time is not right either and all that.

I reckon we must do this together. We must be able to trust how the workers do their work in everything we’ve set an order for. We know what good quality flooring is like and we know that a worker will make that. If a craftsman has installed a door and says it’s not crooked, we must trust that. Why wouldn’t we trust the information they give for our situational monitoring?

Time is never right, yet any time is a good time to think about how things could be done better.

Or is it actually the change forced on us by the future, that we don’t trust? Everything new is scary and nerv-wracking, mostly because it’s unknown. We don’t know, how this world will change and how we’ll cope with the development. But let’s remember that we all industry players are in this same situation that acknowledges ”us” and ”them”. The time is never right, yet any time is a good time to think about how things could be done better.

A wise person once said that if all development projects are successful, there’s not enough development. Now when the great transformation of the construction industry is upon us, it’s certain that there will be failures. This is new for us, because we’re used to doing things the way we’ve always done them. That works, alright, but it doesn’t take us forward… So how about we take ”them” in and push towards the winds of change like Mickey Mouse as a sailor, and see what happens?

And no-one says ”them” and ”us” anymore. OK?

About the Author

Customer Success Specialist at Fira Smart, Tuomas Hakulinen brings his expertise to his words from the sites. Tuomas has work experience of over 10 years from construction sites in site management, where he drove forward operational development from within the site. On his last pipe renovation sites, Tuomas took part in developing the schedule management system Fira Sitedrive, and eventually moved on to continue this work full time in the Fira Smart team. However, a huge part of his work time is still spent on jobsites – nowadays in the role of training and consultation to help sites deploy digital solutions.

Contact Tuomas – he may very well pay you a visit, as well!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Systemic change – people or tools first? Well now, we’re building the future of construction, and fast. We’ve got takt times, data-drives, Read more
Sitedrive – product Digital schedule management together with site managers, subcontractors and all project stakeholders. Visual, cloud-based browser and mobile solutions. Read more
Construction needs a systemic change There have been plenty of attempts to fix construction. First, we believed in BIM, then, Read more