A large source of concern in the construction industry is the concept of responsibility. Who takes the responsibility for what and how is the builder assured, that the task he has asked for is being carried out responsibly?
This is by no means a new concern. Streamlined procedures are established to minimize risks – both for the workers in the field and for potential landslides and settlements that can have expensive and even fatal consequences for the project and the surrounding environment.
Some of the established procedures are to assure the quality of the work in terms of stability in structures as well as the ground, supporting the structures. But despite these efforts – which by the way are quite reliable and precise – accidents happen. These accidents have devastating consequences – economical as well as personal. It is extremely expensive to undo the consequences of i.e. a landslide – and even more devastating are the losses of lives, that unfortunately happen every year.
Back to responsibility – who is responsible, when something goes wrong? And with what measures can contractors make sure that they work responsibly without making damaging impacts during the process? And how can the builder be sure to have knowledge on this? These questions aren’t easy to answer, as a project – from planning to delivering – involves several different stakeholders.
A case with critical issues
To start a discussion about this, I want to present a case that currently is going on in Aarhus, Denmark. During a reconstruction of a building in central Aarhus, residents in a building nearby started to experience cracks in the building, grime in the entryway and lastly, they experienced that they couldn’t close the doors in their apartments. The residents drew attention to this, and an expert was called to inspect the situation. He asked for an acute evacuation, as the building could collapse any minute.
It’s not clear who is responsible for the situation yet. Nor is it clear how and when it happened. And the fact, that nothing was done before the residents took action is unsettling. Somewhere in the otherwise streamlined and established process with different stakeholders, each with their responsibilities, it went wrong. Luckily nothing critical has happened, even though the residents still don’t have access to their apartments.
Automatic monitoring to assure a streamlined process
What impact could an early implementation of automatic monitoring have made in this case?
If the builder had demanded automatic monitoring on the building in the surrounding environments, how had this situation unfolded? Would the issue have been caught earlier perhaps – in time for the contractors to adapt their working process to avoid a potential building collapse?
What we can say for sure, is that automatic monitoring initiatives using IoT technology would provide documentation that could benefit all joints in the complicated process of reconstructing a building. The builder would get documentation on the impact – advisors could make contracts with higher levels of security and contractors could benefit from a tool that always knew the condition of the environment. Hereby they could be able to adjust the process accordingly. And lastly, contractors would be able to provide documentation at the end of the project, showing exactly how their work has – or has not – impacted the environment.