COVID Speeds Up Construction’s Tech Transformation

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Robison Wells

The COVID pandemic, which to date has infected 2,000,000 Americans and killed 112,000, has slowed in many areas, which has led to many economies opening—some faster than others. But what all areas have seen over recent months is that for construction to continue, even post-coronavirus, technology will need to be a much bigger factor in the construction industry.

"The current pandemic has been an accelerator in moving the construction industry through digital transformation faster than most had planned," said Darren Bechtel, with the Bechtel Corporation, one of the largest construction companies in the world.

"On our job sites, the use of digital workflows, smart devices, thermal cameras, remote expert platforms and no-touch solutions have all accelerated our adjustment to the new normal," said David Wilson, chief innovation officer at Bechtel.

Unfortunately, while there are many solutions available—we’ve talked about many tech innovations on PowerTools over the years—there is a problem that haunts the construction industry.

"There is no shortage of solutions on the market, but a close evaluation reveals that few can deliver at scale for our job sites," he said.

One of the biggest powerhouses in construction technology, Procore, partnered with pandemic-darling Zoom during the height of the virus to allow for video conferencing for builders doing emergency construction work. Matterport, a 3D media platform developer, partnered with software company AutoDesk to enable builders to track projects through 3D walkthroughs.

"While a sharp noticeable change [toward digitization] has begun to spread in the US, Europe and Australia, the pace of that change has been exponential during COVID-19," said Tomer Poran, director of business development at Matterport. "Suddenly, ‘the way we've always done it' isn't possible."

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