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Today’s construction projects require a tremendous amount of collaboration, with multiple teams working together to deliver results on time and on budget. When worksite connectivity is not up to par, teams can struggle to get the information they need quickly, and the lack of visibility into important documents and data can lead to poor execution and costly reworks.

Excitement is growing in the construction and engineering sector as 5G looms on the horizon, promising speeds 10 to 100 times faster than today with minimal latency and greater network reliability. 5G promises to tackle the challenge of worksite connectivity and bring massive opportunities for other jobsite improvements in areas such as safety, equipment and more.

Transforming the Jobsite

There are three key ways in which the speed and scalability of 5G will impact how construction workers perform their jobs:

  1. Enhanced mobile broadband: On top of its blazing speeds, 5G is predicted to offer 10 to 100 times the capacity of current long-term evolution (LTE). This will foster collaboration by enabling virtually instantaneous access to data-intensive cloud applications and allowing multiple users to interact with each other in real-time across the globe.
  2. Massive machine-type communications: Projects in smart cities and other large-scale operations with a high number of sensors and nodes will benefit hugely from 5G; health and asset monitoring, on and off-site, should become much more streamlined.
  3. Mission-critical operations: 5G promises incredibly low latency, from one to 10 milliseconds, that will bring with it the ability to pull up reliable information on demand to assess what’s happening on the worksite at any given moment. It will even allow construction teams to perform remote or autonomous operations, which will be key to staying on top of complex jobs.
Managing Data

Many construction projects rely on a well-structured common data environment (CDE) to reduce the time it takes to check information, extract selections of the latest approved data, reduce coordination checks and circulate vital documentation. 5G is expected to bring high bandwidth capabilities that will enable data-heavy formats—such as video—to be stored and accessed in the CDE instantaneously. Coupled with low latency, this high bandwidth will also improve data capture and data access across project delivery processes, providing teams with the latest information when and where they need it.

Having better visibility into the data from the beginning of a project will ensure that sound decisions are made during the design phase, reducing mistakes and changes during the construction phase and ideally minimizing the need for renovations down the road.

The benefits 5G will bring to data capture and analysis will also bring crucial improvements to the site to help monitor the health, location, status and specifications of assets of all kinds, including the following.

  • Site machinery to ensure it is available and operational, which will benefit project managers, principal construction contractors and tradespeople.
  • Building parts to promote cohesive coordination of the plan, to the benefit of owners, architects, engineers and principal construction contractors.
  • Order statuses of components such as window frames and fire extinguishers to make sure the project is on track.
Improving Visual Information

Drone-captured images and videos are increasingly being used to enrich the BIM model and provide greater visualizations into the worksite. 5G’s capabilities will augment existing technologies such as drones and reality capture, playing a key role in helping construction teams cost-effectively capture, organize and analyze large quantities of video information. This ease of access to an on-demand, transparent view of the project could give owners peace of mind and maybe even eliminate the need for certain teams to be on site.

A next-generation wireless network provides the potential to have a plan that’s updated based on almost each and every action on site. That can be beneficial for mitigating risk and dealing with minor issues before they become major problems.

In addition, 5G will mean sensors can more effectively be deployed to improve safety by tracking individuals’ safety compliance as wearable technologies become more prevalent in the construction industry.

Things to Consider

 Before diving head-first into planning for the arrival of 5G, there are a number of factors for construction professionals to consider if they want their future deployments to be successful.

First, one of the most important considerations should be the impact 5G will have on security. Since the technology will usher in the ability to have more connected devices on-site than ever before, there is a greater need for vigilance around ensuring security standards are up to date and are being followed across all of these endpoints, as any of them could become a way in for cybercriminals.

Also, with the potential of 5G to collect so much data from so many different sources on a site and enable multiple teams to access the information from anywhere, it will be important to safeguard information as if it were a currency. Project managers should be conscious of who has access to what information to protect IP and sensitive data.

There is no doubt 5G will bring a host of improvements to construction and engineering, some of which we can’t yet even imagine. What’s certain is that it will bring significant improvements to productivity, collaboration and safety, and construction pros would be wise to start thinking about how they can lay the groundwork to deploy these advanced solutions and drive innovation in their future projects.


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