Like all industries, construction has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and is now being forced to adapt in order to operate in a heightened health and safety environment focused on social distancing. This disruption is fundamentally impeding conventional construction approaches and forcing even the most traditional companies to look for modern solutions. Now, promising digital technologies that have been struggling to break established construction markets are emerging as saviors of post-COVID construction.
“While sectors such as retail and manufacturing have reinvented themselves, construction seems stuck in a time warp,” states a 2018 report by McKinsey & Co. that echos the voice of the whole industry over the last few decades. “Construction lags significantly behind other sectors in its use of digital tools and is slow to adopt new materials, methods, and technology,” continues the pre-COVID report.
In fact, global labor-productivity growth in construction has averaged just 1% per year over the past 20-years, compared with 3.6% in the manufacturing sector and an average of 2.8% across the entire world economy. In certain markets, including the UK and Germany, construction productivity has actually declined compared to the 1990s, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data.
Last week, San Francisco-based remote construction solution provider OpenSpace raised an impressive $15.9 million in a Series B funding round led by Menlo Ventures. The firm offers a tool that captures, uploads, and organizes photos taken on a walkthrough of a construction site to create a 360-degree “street view style” digital experience. The tool allows remote specialists to “digitally walkthrough” the site, adding their expertise to support the construction process without ever having to visit the site in person.
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