Start-up technology companies are seeking to challenge the construction, real estate, and property management sectors, and the proliferation of mobile technology has drastically changed consumer behaviour, creating a culture of ‘always online’ users.
ConTech is a phrase that has been coined to identify advanced construction technology. It broadly describes the intersection of construction and technology. ConTech is often used in conjunction with the term PropTech, which is derived from the words property and technology. This refers to emerging technology companies that are influencing and disrupting the property market.
- FinTech - a fairly universal term associated with finance and technology.
- RealTech - commonly used in the United States to cover real estate technology.
- CREtech - commercial real estate technology.
- Real EsTech - a European concept associated with entrepreneurial, start-up real estate technology.
PropTech is relatively well established in the real estate lexicon and is generally considered the umbrella concept for the terms associated with tech and other aspects of property management and construction. Initially, PropTech referred to buying, renting, selling, managing, designing and constructing residential and commercial properties. Now it is primarily associated with pre-construction activities (such as property sales and leasing issues) along with post-construction tasks (such as operations and maintenance).
By contrast, ConTech is now recognised in many circles as the term associated with the design and construction aspects of residential and commercial buildings. It is linked with pre-construction processes, including architecture and design, along with civil engineering and other tasks associated with the building phases of projects.
 What does ConTech include?
As part of the construction vocabulary, ConTech is now established in its own right. The term can cover everything within the construction sector that is digitally connected. BIM (Building Information Modelling) is one process associated with ConTech, which also includes several others, including the following:
 Communications technology
While mobile phones and other portable communication devices have long been part of the construction environment, the latest construction software and apps can store and even transmit important documents such as drawings, documents and specifications for on-site components.
 Component design and manufacturing
One example of ConTech that has been in use for some time is 3D printing, which can create construction components or 'print' entire buildings. BIM can facilitate greater use of 3D printing and result in faster and more accurate bespoke items. It might also enable construction to be undertaken in harsh or dangerous environments not suitable for a human workforce. Offsite prefabrication of materials and building components can also be expedited through the use of 3D printing.
A form of advanced construction technology, robotics are being deployed in some building installation projects. They may also prove useful in handling repetitive motions or high vibration tasks that can lead to injuries in workers.
 Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics
AI-empowered autonomous equipment can navigate within its surroundings without human assistance. This type of equipment can survey a proposed construction site and create 3D maps and plans from the information it has gathered.
Predictive analytics can be used to identify risk and streamline construction workflow processes. This form of ConTech can use real-time and historical data as well as weather and environmental information to help construction companies use their equipment better. For example, construction firms can prevent unscheduled downtime or make machinery last longer while also improving equipment dispatching and planning.
Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), drones are a form of ConTech that is well suited for site safety, security surveillance and general activity monitoring. They can give relatively easy access to large or difficult sites or to large, complex or tall structures. They can gather aerial data, mapping information and images that can be used for:
- Providing visual material for clients and other stakeholders.
- Mapping data across sites.
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