The foundation of construction is the flow of information. From the information about massing and dimensions on the plans, to the specification of the components, and the installation instructions for a specific material. The functional information which ensures that the building will meet the code, that it will resist gravity, and perhaps even resist the test of time.
There is also another flow of information concerning the trades behind each of these elements. Ideally these are interwoven and flowed together in a sequencing which builds upon the previous work. It calls on another layer of goods and materials which must have been coordinated to be on-site in order to avoid wasted contractor time, or countless trips to Home Depot.
An overlay on these interwoven databites is the perspective of a continuously updated budget, timeline, and as-built plans. And finally, there is the dimensionality of serendipity, or cultivating tacit knowledge interchanges from all levels of “experts” to support a cross-fertilizing of information to arrive at even better solutions.
Until I stepped into the shoes of a G.C. on my current job, I never understood how many flows of information are involved. I recently studied I.T. and social networking, and am convinced that the plethora of new computer systems are only complexifying issues. Mind you – I firmly believe that we need to some software solutions, only it seems many of the current ones are developed from the perspective of one trade.
And we are back to this concept of interoperability, integration, modularization. It is dependent on all of the flows of information acting in concert. As more pieces of info are shared, the commonalities are discovered, the logical sequences, the reduncies identified.
So how does the I.T. solution look for construction? It would need to be server based for access by cell phones of the crew; flexible an parametric to keep up with changes, modifiably and lockable to prevent changes to final decisions on details. The information would need to be linked both to design, at the front end, and accounting all throughout.
I’m constantly amazed by the ability for contractors to handle “fires” by accessing their vast network of connections. I’m even more impressed by those have the tools and technique to harvest knowledge from this web of information in order to pro-actively “manage” the project, seek out opportunities, and have the ability to act upgrade the process. Am looking forward to meeting some of these folks.