Promoting smart construction with interactive map dashboard

December 20, 2021 10:15
Photo: CIC

In order to promote digital transformation in the construction industry, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has recently launched an interactive map dashboard called “Smart Construction in Hong Kong” to allow the industry to monitor the progress, while the public can have a glimpse of the industry that accounts for more than 4% of Hong Kong's GDP.

The dashboard contains six types of information, including:

(1) Digitalisation Showcase

Among the total 280 projects, though nearly half of them are digitalised, they are mainly public projects, while among the private projects which account for nearly 70% of the total, only one-third are digitalised. At present, the interactive map showcases winning projects from the CIC Construction Digitalisation Award. I look forward to more successful cases for sharing as the digitalisation of Hong Kong's construction industry matures.

(2) Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) Projects

This includes information like progress of the projects, distribution of the projects in Hong Kong and Kowloon, building materials used, and more.

(3) Buildings Department Monthly Digest Section 5

It shows the number of buildings for which demolition orders have been issued, newly approved plans, and completed new buildings for which occupation permits have been issued.

(4) Digitalisation Adoption

It illustrates the adoption rate, motivations, perceived benefits, and obstacles of digitalisation from the CIC “Survey on Adoption of Digitalisation in Construction Projects”. Among the 387 organizations surveyed, less than half said that they had digitalised or would be digitalised. Nearly 70% of those digitalised in response to client requests, and more than 50% reflected that digitalisation could reduce risks and enhance the organization’s image. In regard to main obstacles, most of them came from the clients. Besides, more than one-third of the interviewees said that there was a shortage of professionals in digital technology, and it was difficult to change the existing workflow. In short, there are various human factors that make the digital development difficult.

(5) Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF)

In terms of number of approved applications on CITF, the category of building information modeling (BIM) is the largest of which 1.2k cases have been approved out of 2.1k applications. But in terms of the approved amount, “advanced construction technologies (ACT)” and MiC ranked the first and second with HK$210M and HK$114M respectively, out of the total approved amount of HK$522M.( as of 30 Sep 2021)

(6) Demand and Supply of BIM personnel

The data was extracted from the holistic review on demand and supply of BIM personnel in the Hong Kong construction industry by the Development Bureau and CIC. It shows that the projected demand and supply of BIM personnel required for the construction industry by end of 2025,and where CIC-Accredited BIM Manager courses and CIC-Accredited BIM coordinator courses register are on the map dashboard.

In fact, as construction is an activity in the environment, it should be inseparable from geographic information. Therefore, advanced technologies such as BIM and geographic information system (GIS) play an important role in the construction process, such as combining optical radar (LiDAR) and drone data to monitor project progress, detecting the impact of construction on the environment through sound sensors, setting up geofence to allow employees to receive warning when entering and exiting high-risk areas, thus, enhancing safety of the construction personnel.

Today, the construction industry generally lacks an understanding of digital transformation, or the industry cannot appreciate the benefit in making the change, and the workers are incapable of execution due to insufficient training in the new technologies. The situation is similar to that over 20 years ago, when public and private organizations and government departments were only willing to use paper maps which they believed very effective then.

But today, electronic maps with GIS as the core are becoming popular. On the one hand, electronic map facilitates communication between departments, it is especially effective in handling emergencies such as typhoon, landslide, flooding and emergency situations related to building structure. On the other hand, results of data analysis can be visualized through interactive map dashboard to ease the public’s concern about events such as the COVID-19 epidemic or the reclamation project.

Thanks to the forward-looking managers who had the courage to experiment so that we can enjoy the benefits of smart technologies. A sure way to gain a lead in the fiercely competitive construction industry is to start digital transformation as early as possible.

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Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering; Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong