How To Leverage AI in the Property and Construction Industries
Alongside drones, augmented reality and blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest emerging tech trends in Proptech, a term that describes the digitalization of real-estate and construction industries.
In the media, we often hear sensational stories of an evil AI taking over humanity, but we often miss the more immediate benefits AI can bring to the table.
In the last 50 years, the construction industry has shown the worst growth in productivity when compared to other major industries. By taking a smart and practical approach to AI, the real-estate and construction industries could make a big step forward in becoming more efficient.
As Katriina Valli from AI4value says, AI today refers to natural language processing (NLP), optical character recognition (OCR), computer vision, machine learning and chatbots. Watch Katriina’s interview about leveraging AI in the property and construction industries here:
Here are some of my ideas on how companies and organizations can start using AI in PropTech.
NLP and OCR
Natural language processing (NLP) allows the analysis of vast amounts of qualitative data by identifying semantic and ontological patterns from text and speech. The popular voice assistants that we use, such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, are great everyday examples on NLP.
In the context of Proptech, NLP can be used for analyzing the communications of a large-scale construction project and finding patterns that should be reinforced or eliminated. By adding optical character recognition (OCR) to the mix, AI can analyze even handwritten documents and notes.
For example, by analyzing all emails and messages sent during a large construction project, NLP methods can show that incoherent terminology related to materials leads to mistakes and inefficiencies. Once organizations identify these communication problems, they have a chance to fix them.
Computer Vision and Image Recognition
Computer vision and image recognition attempt to make computers see like humans and animals. In essence, this means the categorizing of things that the computer sees in an image or video feed.
In Proptech, these technologies could be used to identify quality and safety issues at construction sites by analyzing videos and images.
For example, a shopping mall could use drones to document the building and its surroundings, and AI could then search for existing or predicted anomalies that need to be fixed.
A well-designed algorithm can also suggest better courses of action to avoid future problems altogether.
The most potent aspect of today's AI is machine learning. It refers to software programs that can modify themselves when exposed to fresh data.
Machine learning is already used by real-estate companies to predict real estate prices by analyzing millions of data points. For example, the Finnish real-estate startup Blok uses AI in this fashion.
In construction projects, machine learning can be used to optimize project schedules by analyzing millions of alternatives and constantly adjusting parameters to increase efficiency.
The most likely way people encounter AI in everyday life is chatbots. When you use chat widgets on websites and get answers immediately, you are quite likely dealing with an AI-powered chatbot.
Real-estate portals can use chatbots to provide instant customer service and to qualify leads for human operators to process. Chatbots can also be used in construction projects to provide guidance and best practices for staff working onsite.
The Way Forward
In all of these examples, the volume and quality of data are the most critical ingredients for AI to provide meaningful value. We are decades away from true human-like AI, but in its present state it can already be used to augment human performance by providing mathematical superpowers and analyzing massive amounts of data. The best way is to start with something small today and then expand as you go. “Teaching" an AI and learning how to use it can take a lot of time, so it's best to start today.
Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) today to kickstart your AI project in the property or construction industry. We will hold a meeting to concept plan your AI needs and start the service design process.