Are You Ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution?
The World Economic Forum has recognised that we are approaching the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Just like the previous three, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will mark a significant change in the way we work.
4IR is characterised by rapid advancements in technology resulting in a fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds. These technologies are rapidly influencing societies, economies and individuals; the construction industry needs to embrace these technologies while still being able to address social and economic issues prevailing in the developing world.
Global trends indicate an increasing population growth rate and rapid urbanisation, creating a higher demand for infrastructure to accommodate living requirements while simultaneously limiting the impacts on the environment. Our projects are more likely required to adapt to technologies while achieving sustainable development goals.
Construction methods, construction material, and even the parameters we design are changing. Prefabrication and modular construction can increase the rollout of service delivery. There is a multitude of research and development regarding material science. Advanced building materials can reduce the impacts of construction on the environment.
Expansion of cities will require sustainable infrastructure to support the mobility, water, sanitation and energy requirements of the people, and combined with the Internet of Things; it will most likely give rise to “Smart” cities, where information and communication technology can be used to increase operational efficiency of services.
The construction industry provides a large number of employment opportunities, and these technologies have the potential to replace the labour force utilised in construction projects. Policies will need to be put in place to reduce the impact of the use of technologies by providing training, reskilling and encouraging careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
The current workforce would need to be reskilled to keep up with advancements in technology. New technologies will also create new jobs opportunities and these opportunities will most likely be in the fields of STEM. By encouraging careers in STEM at an early stage, the future generations will be well equipped to the advancements of the future.
Engineers need to become more diligent and attentive to the environment we work in; we need to accept the fact the technologies can allow for more innovative thinking and optimisation of resources on projects. It will require the coordinated efforts of government and the private sector to plan for the impacts of technology in the construction sector to accommodate new technologies to keep up with global standards while addressing socio-economic issues at a local level.