The Cambridge Analytica scandal and the EU’s GDPR legislation have increased the public’s awareness of data and the downside to the data sharing economy. But what impacts will these developments have on the emerging trend in the construction industry for collecting data to improve building performance and operational efficiency?
Research states that by 2050 there will be 50 billion connected devices and 19.5% or 9.75 billion of these will be linked to buildings. Add to this estimates that, by 2020, buildings will generate 7.8 zetabytes 1 of data annually and it’s not hard to see why this information could prove a great resource for the construction industry; helping us deliver better assets, benchmark properties and learn how to do things better. However, despite the obvious benefits, adopting widespread data collection could pose a real challenge for the industry.
Although connected devices would not be collecting personal data, the information collected could reveal sensitive corporate information. Imagine you are a corporation who prides yourself on your environmental credentials, but the data shows that your headquarters building is an energy guzzling, carbon emitter, or you own a portfolio of buildings, which the data shows to be underperforming compared to your competitors in terms of operating costs, lifecycle maintenance or occupant satisfaction. Revelations that could cause real damage to the brand, share price or asset value. Issues such as this should not mean that we put data collection into the too-hard-to-do box; but it does mean that we need to consider how we treat the data that we collect. Currently we are at an early stage in terms of data collection, which makes it the ideal time to work together to determine a set of guidelines for the industry. These would set out a series of parameters in relation to the types of data we could collect and how we process and use it. Anonymising the data may be one way to deal with the issue of privacy, whereby we could collect data types such as building age, usage, energy performance but not identify the specifc assets.