Quick insight

AI in Megaprojects

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been defined as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programmes”. The concept has been around for many years, however, the application of this technology within the construction industry is still relatively new. In fact, some of the most exciting ways of bringing AI into the construction industry are yet to be fully realised.

Today we are looking at the role of AI in the megaproject industry. What does AI application within a megaproject look like? Who will benefit most from its use? Why is it vital that megaprojects utilise AI?

What Does AI Mean for Megaprojects?

Megaprojects are defined by Flyvbjerg as “large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost a billion dollars or more, take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders, are transformational, and impact millions of people”. The immense amount of complexity involved in a project of this scale seems self-evident. However, alarming statistics such as the fact that nine out of ten megaprojects have cost overruns (with 50% overruns being common), sharply demonstrate the ways that the complexity of megaprojects have highly detrimental consequences for the progress of the project.

Vast complexity is mirrored in the sheer volume of data produced almost constantly in megaprojects. Getting lost in contractor inputs, progress reports and more is almost inevitable. However, the inability of any human mind to keep track of these thousands of streams of information is what leads to overruns. These overruns cause costs to skyrocket and have even caused media whirlwinds as risks are not anticipated, time slippage grows and progress slows.

Who AI Will Assist

When making the decisions that drive megaprojects, the problem for leadership teams and stakeholders is not there is no data to base them on. The problem is what we outlined above – that there is too much data for a human being to take in, and it is often inaccessible. This is where AI can radically transform business operations at the executive level. By collating disparate data, AI enables decision-makers to take on a data-driven holistic view. Decisions are no longer based on gut feel alone but on hard facts.

One study has argued that AI forecasts “could include financial performance of contractors, governance, economic growth” and more. At Foresight Works, we have seen first-hand how our AI technology has empowered key decision-makers to act fast, with higher levels of accuracy than was possible without AI intervention.

Beyond the Board level, AI has the potential to revolutionise work on-site. Algorithms could ingest vast amounts of images of people working on-site wearing helmets, then a drone could fly around the site and pick up where contractors are not wearing helmets – highlighting safety issues as soon as they occur.

AI is Transforming Our Industry

It has been forecasted that the construction AI market will reach US $4.5 billion by 2026. The impact of this cutting-edge technology within the sector has already been seen. The ability of AI and machine learning to enhance project teams from the board room to the worksite is an opportunity that the industry cannot afford to miss.

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Madeleine Jones Casey

Madeleine Jones-Casey

Business Writer at Foresight Works

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