The RICS has launched an insight paper which explores the impact of using artificial intelligence (AI) in the built environment, and the urgent need for industry professionals to understand how it will influence their role, as the future will rely less on human labour and more on technology.

AI in FM

One sector that the Artificial Intelligence: What it means for the built environment highlights as facing a significant impact of AI is facilities management (FM), due to the labour-intensive and repetitive nature of many FM jobs, making it an ideal place for automation of previously human-dominated tasks. However, the report weighs up the positives and negatives of such changes and how companies should deal with them.

Paul Bagust, RICS Global Property Standards Director says “FM will always have a vital role to play within the built environment, and even though many operational roles will become more technology-led, the sector could benefit hugely from AI at a strategic level. For example, machinery utilising AI will revolutionise the FM industry, making many jobs faster, safer, less costly and this will ultimately improve a company’s service offering and increase their bottom line.

“Technology and the availability of data is also changing the way investors look for opportunities and invest. This will present a huge threat to the industry if ignored, but, again, it presents so many opportunities for those who work in the built environment. So, all businesses, however large or small, must act now and analyse and prepare for how this disruptive technology could transform their role, sector and the wider built environment — otherwise they face becoming obsolete.”

Chris Hoar, co-founder of AI in FM added “The paper discusses how AI will transform the property industry by driving smart, efficient buildings from design through to construction. It also highlights how those in the industry can exploit the latest AI applications and developments, including drones and BIM (Building Information Modelling), to plan and work more effectively, while improving and better maintaining the quality of buildings and the wider built environment.

“The overarching message of this report is that organisations should seek out and maximise the opportunities that artificial intelligence presents, while minimising any potential threats. This way, they will have a much better chance of controlling their business strategy, direction and financial health.”

The year is 2045. The roads are full of driverless cars, artificial intelligence has reached superhuman levels and even buildings have an AI personality that runs them. What does the construction industry look like? Hewden answer that question in their latest report written by full time futurologist Ian Pearson.

Ian is a full time futurologist, tracking and predicting developments across a wide range of technology, business, society, politics and the environment. In the report, Ian talks of a thriving industrial Utopia, rife with technological advancements. He says “New materials and techniques will need new skills for construction workers, increasing both their salaries and personal job satisfaction. They will work alongside automated and robotic equipment and AI so will need new skills to manage them to get the best from them. Natural competitiveness will ensure that humans want to show off areas where their own skills are superior, but mostly, workers will come to think of their machines as colleagues rather than just machines. Instead of driving a large digger or crane, it will become more of a close working partnership, with the person in charge, but the machine doing a lot of the thinking for itself. This will allow faster and safer working as well as very precise operation and a wider range of tasks that can be completed.”

The report predicts several advancements within the sector, particularly within the area of automated machinery and robot workers. Augmented reality software will make life easy for specifiers, surveyors and architects, who will be able to walk onto a site and actually see the building they are designing digitally in situ rather than on a piece of paper or on a computer screen.

Pearson also touched on the topic of house building and the role construction will play in housing a growing population, saying that “there is already a shortage of housing, but strong expectations of significant population increase over the next 30 years thanks to aging, immigration and higher birth rates. We will therefore need a lot more construction of housing, plus all the other infrastructure needed for a growing population and associated business. Thankfully, we are coming out of recession now and will soon recover the normal 2% to 2.5% economic growth, and that will double the size of the economy by 2045. Construction investment is often pushed by government as a mechanism for economic growth, so it will benefit by at least that much, probably more.”

To read the full report, please click here: