Introducing the Construction Data Trust

2 Mar 21
Introducing the Construction Data Trust

Data sharing has the potential to solve complex problems for the UK construction industry, the audience at the first GIRI members’ meeting of the year heard. Guest speakers Grant Findlay and Gareth Parkes from the Construction Data Trust predict that this new initiative offers a huge opportunity for improvements in the industry and for eliminating errors. 

The National Infrastructure Commission estimates that increased data sharing across UK infrastructure could unlock an additional £7 billion in benefits per year for the sector, but as an industry, construction has to become better at capturing data and transferring knowledge.

The Construction Data Trust was founded in November 2020 to help deliver benefits from data access by enabling collaboration and delivering insights and intelligence. A data trust, explained Grant, is a legal structure that provides independent stewardship of data. ‘This is key. The data steward controls access to data and how it is used to benefit the community. An independent data steward also removes concerns about security and the sharing of data in a competitive environment.’

The purpose of the Construction Data Trust is to support and improve the construction industry. ‘Data trusts can help communities solve problems, and the industry is facing many challenges,’ said Grant. ‘There has been criticism of the industry in terms of safety as a result of Grenfell, but also in respect of quality, carbon, climate change, productivity, efficiency, and completion to time and budget.’

However, said Grant, to unlock the benefits of data sharing, the industry must capture and make it available. ‘Data is a common theme for all our businesses, but we often hold it silos and have no mechanism for sharing it. We have all become digital adopters during the pandemic and we are all more reliant on data. We now have a once-in-a-generation chance to build back better and do things differently to deliver better outcomes and learn better ways of doing things.’

Gareth Parkes then highlighted examples of the ways in which data can be used to deliver insights or solve problems. He presented two case studies of solutions developed through hackathons, which invite members of the public to work with data analytics professionals on ways in which data science can help shape project delivery in the future.

Safety Steve is an app that collects safety observations through voice capture. It recognises and categorises words and themes against predetermined filters and records observations in real time. ‘It demonstrates how organisations can use this type of tool to capture a large data set,’ said Gareth. ‘Volume of data is key, because once you have a large volume of data you can start doing clever things with it using AI and machine learning.’

Errorless was another app created over a weekend, which allows 100% of specifications to be read rather than simply spot checked. ‘People don’t have time to read everything, but this app “reads” specs and can identify whether they have substantial risks associated with them. The risks are flagged, and the user gets a report that tells them which specs to read first or where risks are likely to occur. It enables the user to make quick, risk-based decisions.’

However, as Grant pointed out, all this potential relies on organisations capturing data and making it available, which is where the Construction Data Trust comes in. 

Grant Findlay closed with an invitation to GIRI to join the trust, and for individual member organisations to get in touch and participate in its activities, which span productivity, quality, safety, and carbon reduction.

‘We think the Construction Data Trust can be transformational for the industry. It gives us the potential to use data in a meaningful way to drive change and help the economic recovery. Together, we can drive useful insights that would be impossible alone and help technology companies come up with innovations to improve the industry.’


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