The slow arrival of AI and IOT to Construction

My friend Stacey Higginbotham focuses on IOT and she has a post on Construction is the next big target for AI and IOT.

The construction industry is ripe for some innovation, or disruption, or whatever else you want to call it. As I’ve written before, there are a host of factors that make the industry tough to automate, starting with the individual nature of each building site and ending with the 20-30 different trades involved in getting a building from foundation to finish-out.

I have been working on ways to apply information technology for the past 10 years and the obstacles are many and hidden from most. It is not just about technology. The people and culture influence perceptions and the ability to adapt the change. All too often what people want that they do not say is they want the benefits of the new technology, but do not want to make any changes in what they do.

AI is disruptive as computers are augmenting or replacing the human decision process.

IOT means things that were disconnected are now connected. This sounds great, but few think about the information architecture, storage systems, security issues for IOT devices. And networks.

2 years ago I updated Stacey on the insights we have figured out and the ways to address the opportunity.

The one thing I have learned and accept is it is a slow process to introduce things like AI and IOT. They are simply tools in the overall system that needs to support a new business model. Inject AI and IOT into old business models will almost guarantee failure or limited progress.

One of these days Stacey and I will connect and discuss more. What is convenient is we are now separated by 30 miles and a ferry ride across the Puget Sound.

If you want to keep up to speed on IOT and Stacey’s podcast with her and Kevin Tofel. Note: I had the pleasure of working with Stacey and Kevin when we were all with GigaOm.

When will construction workers be like NBA players who trust the data?

Construction is ripe for change. One of the industries with the biggest adoption of data science are professional sports and NBA basketball is constantly covered. WSJ has an article that shows how one player trusted the data.

What happened next would change Admiral Schofield’s life. He spent months tinkering with his mechanics until he was no longer shooting moonballs. As his shooting angle came down, his shooting percentage went up. Schofield made 30% of his 3-pointers as a freshman and 41% over the next three years.

“The most common quote I hear, whether it’s a middle-school coach, high-school coach, college or NBA, is that today’s players will not argue with a computer,” Carter said.

What has made this possible is an automated data entry system for recording basketball as events. It is relatively simple. Just track all the players and the ball in a fixed geometry space. Cameras and other sensors log all this activity. Basketball is so much easier than other sports with 5 players per team on a basketball court and it is indoor sport which makes the camera and sensor setup easier.

Part of the fun I have been having is chatting with multiple people who think this same way and get how it could apply to construction. What I laugh at on a regular basis though is what is required to process this information. HD compressed video is 4 mbps stream. 4K is 16 mbps. If you think you will send this to the cloud you will be paying insane transport costs up and down to process the data. Video image processing in the cloud is expensive.

On devices and the edge makes so much more sense.

5G requires more power for higher speed and that means more heat for 5G systems

ArsTechnica has a good article on 5G speeds and a barrier during the summer. Summer barrier? It is hotter in many places of the world this summer and 5G is hotter than 4G LTE.

Bottom line:

"This persistent overheating behavior just makes me more confident in recommending that consumers wait to buy a 5G phone."

The devices are bigger, hotter, more expensive, and have less battery life than their 4G counterparts.

Any data center person knows when there are higher performing systems there is going to be a need for more cooling. Have not seen a new 5G phone cooling system yet, so that means the phone will just get hotter as a heat sink and when it gets too hot it needs to throttle back or turn off.

And at the 5G cellular tower you can imagine the power consumption and heat will increase as well. Can well imagine that 5G infrastructure could be a magnitude higher in power consumption if it was easy to add power and cooling, but it is not.

The overall power consumption of 5G could be significant enough to limit its growth and adoption.

7x24 Exchange's Tribute to David Schirmacher

7x24 Exchange honored the memory of David Schirmacher with a tribute which we can see on a video on this page.

I was lucky to meet David and have many long, long conversations over the years. When David was with FieldView he had a lot more time. When he joined Digital Realty Trust, the times I would connect with him would reduce down to seeing him at 7x24 Exchange. To have quality conversations I started to stay past the last presentations and go to the pool after the conference where David and I would grab a burger and catch up. The nice thing talking to him even though months had gone by we would jump immediately into tough issues.

We covered a wide range of topics. The current state of the data center industry. Various technologies for the data center buildings and the equipment in it. And lots of conversations about the people in the industry. Before David joined Digital Realty Trust he wanted my opinion on the job and what it would be like. David knew I am close to Mike Manos and his time at Digital Realty is a good set of data to work with in making a decision.

One of David’s best insights that gets lots of laughs is when he talked about a given data center executive who spoke about his efforts, his industry initiatives, his team, etc., and etc. Then David said it, “Oh my god, that’s it. He is the Donald Trump of Data Centers. A self-promoter.” David said this over 5 years ago and when ever I tell this story it gets a good laugh.

In our many conversations we came up with idea of taking a group of West Coast data center executives and visiting a group of the financial data center executives in NYC. People who all too often are not at the conferences, but data centers are very much part of their business. Touring data centers for some of the financials and exchanges was a very different world. One of the interesting points is how quiet it was. Quiet in terms of activity, not the noise. In a Cloud data center you would see lots of gear ready to be deployed, repairs and upgrades, and new areas for expansion. At the New York data centers it was clean and low activity. It was a different world and it was good to connect the different perspectives.

As Bob said in the tribute video on this page. David would always be at the conferences with his wife Veronica and both would be all smiles. It is hard to accept David is gone from the 7x24 Exchange events. He touched so many people there and he was always energized. I’ll miss that smile and the laughs.