Monthly Archives: August 2018

The International Conference on 3D Construction Printing (3DcP)

The International Conference on 3D Construction Printing (3DcP) in conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Innovative Production and Construction (IPC 2018) will be held in Melbourne, Australia, from 26-28 November 2018. 

The Conference themes are shown below:

Theme I: 3D Printing for Construction Application

  • Concrete and material technology for 3D printing
  • Extrusion-based 3D concrete printing
  • Powder-based 3D concrete printing
  • Clay technology for 3D printing
  • 3D printing for special structures
Theme II: Digital Construction
  • Digital Engineering and Technology
  • Virtual reality in construction
  • Virtual construction
  • Digital fabrication
Theme III: 3D Construction Printing Management
  • Management aspects of 3D construction printing
  • Environmental aspects of 3D construction printing
  • Sustainability aspects of 3D construction printing
  • Life cycle assessment of 3D construction printing
  • Policy aspects of 3D construction printing
  • Human skill aspects of 3D construction printing
Theme IV: Modelling and Topology Optimisation
  • 3D printing in architecture
  • Topology optimization of structures for 3D printing
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Theme V: Innovative Production and Construction
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Automation and Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
  • Productivity Improvement in Construction
  • Lean Construction and Production
  • Sustainability in Construction

 

Selected papers will be published in a Special Issue of Automation in Construction Journal titled “3D Construction Printing”.

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Picture: The International Conference on 3D Construction Printing (3DcP) in conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Innovative Production and Construction (IPC 2018).

Smart elderly home

Recent IT developments for elderly home

Alongside the growing ageing population, the governments around the globe have been investing in IT to provide smart home for the elderly. The major reason behind perhaps is to alleviate the medical and healthcare burden arising from the increasing average life expectancy.

The design priority of smart home for the elderly, especially for those who live alone, should be in the following order: safety > health > general wellbeing.

Internet-of-Things (IoT)

Smart elderly home usually comes with the concept of Internet-of-Things (IoT). IoT is the network of physical devices, e.g. electrical appliances, sensors and personal computers, embedded with software and electronics. Such a network enables integration and automation with speedy connectivity and exchange of data among the devices. With the advancement of internet and high-speed cellular network technologies, IoT is also connected to outside systems, e.g. hospital or healthcare systems, for performing safety and health monitoring and emergency purpose.

The networks that enable smart elderly home are normally

  • Personal Area Network (PAN) or Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) for general sensors
  • Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) or Body Sensor Network (BSN) for biomedical sensors

Upon completion of analyzing data collected on the environment, as well as users’ activity and physiological conditions, the central unit of a system responds by activating relevant appliances, e.g. air-conditioning, and/or sending signals to the caregivers in healthcare centres or hospitals via the internet or mobile network.

Safety

One example of safety measures is the Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System in the Singapore’s public housing, developed by Astralink Technology, a Singaporean company with innovative products featuring voice, data and video. The system is installed in the one-room rental apartments for senior citizens. It makes use of motion sensors and cameras to monitor the living patterns of the elderly, and alert the caregivers and family members via an app if there is any anomalies, based on the cloud analytics with the elderly profiles.

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Picture: Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System

Apart from Astralink Technology, Sensor City is another company deploying infrared sensors to monitor the safety of the aged by anonymously tracking their movements.

Health and general wellbeing

Home automation is one of the main features in elderly home to enhance the residents’ health and general comfort and convenience. Common IT facilities cover

  • security system
  • door locks
  • video door phone system, e.g. Nest Hello
  • lighting control
  • air-conditioning control
  • curtain control
  • automated furniture (beds, chairs, dining table and wardrobe, etc.) for both health monitoring and wellbeing
  • fridge, e.g. Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator

Meanwhile, machine-speaking personal assistants, e.g. Google Home and Amazon Echo, are being adopted to integrate individual systems and gadgets.

Furthermore, short range communication technology is deployed. For instance, old people including those who are susceptible to losing their ways are monitored through wearable electronics using radio frequency identification (RFID). The use of RFID can also be extended to recording use of community facilities, assisting the elderly to read out texts, and conducting health training through interactive media.

For longer distance monitoring, Global Positioning System (GPS) tagging system is used. For example, Mindme Locate uses satellites to find out the users’ location accurately. 

Emerging technologies

  • Smart carpet – it is a carpet with pressure points sensor underneath to detect the presence of people. For the elderly, in case they fell down or behaving abnormally, alerts will be sent to the monitoring centre who can come their rescue.

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Picture: At Manchester University, scientists have developed a “magic carpet”, designed to detect and even predict, when old people fall at home

  • Smart bed mattress – the bed mattress, designed by EarlySense, can return signals with data on mechanical vibrations of the heart cardio ballistic effect, and respiratory and patient motion to the caregivers.

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Picture: Earlysense in Waltham, Massachusetts

  • Smart Mirror – a prominent example is Wize Mirror which gives the user a check-up each time when he/she stands in front of the mirror. It has built in 3D-scanners, multispectral cameras and gas sensоrs which help tо identify early signs оf seriоus illnesses. The analysis оf the human face (facial expressiоns, skin tоne and fatty tissue cоntent) also helps tо indicate the initial diagnоsis.

mirror

Picture: Smart mirror – Wize Mirror

  • Smart contact lens – a technology developed by Goolge X in partnership with Novartis, a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical giant. The lens contains a tiny and ultra slim microchip that is embedded in one of its thin concave sides. It aims to offer an easier and more comprehensive way of monitoring the glucose levels of diabetics.

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Picture: Google’s smart contact lens.  

  • Smart earring – The EAR-O-SMART connects to smartphones and monitor the user’s your heart rate, calories, and activity level.

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Picture: EAR-O-SMART smart earring.  

WhatsApp – a private app for project management

Problems of using WhatsApp for project management in construction

In a gloomy day in June, a group of men and women took to street to protest against WhatsApp in Guwahati, India. That caught the public’s attention given the app’s user base of 1.5 billion and Facebook earlier acquisition of the company for a huge amount of $1.9 billion in 2014. The protesters denounced WhatsApp for failing to stop rampant false information across the electronic platform. The cause was the so called “fake news” spread through the app that resulted in at least 30 people being murdered. These people were accused for child kidnapping as only “evidenced” by the videos circulated through WhatsApp, the most popular social media app in the country.

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Picture: Protest in India against WhatsApp for failing to stop horrific lynchings and seeking for justice (The Guardian).

In many countries, WhatsApp is the primary instrument of communication for ordinary citizens. WhatsApp is faster than email. Its free of charge, and handy and easy-to-use functions, together with the ease of access through internet, have made it one of the most liked instant messenger apps. In India, it has 200 million users in India.

Given the above features, people in the construction industry have been adopting WhatsApp, as one of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for communication with project team members and sharing of project information.

Technical and non-technical issues of WhatsApp in India

The incident in India highlights the vulnerability of WhatsApp to misinformation. The messages and files transferred via WhatsApp are not subject to fact-checking. As content of messages are encrypted end-to-end, the only way to identify untrue information is through voluntary reporting, though WhatsApp has been taking measures to limit the number of forwarded messages.

What caused the peril in India might also include a number of non-technical factors. For instance, there is no mainstream media to provide updates on news and commentaries on social and economic issues. Some turn to social media and never query their credentials. In addition, people with low literacy rate in some areas of India were more susceptible to propaganda and incitements in social media, especially in a country which is famous for its diversity in ethnicities, race and religion.

WhatsApp in the construction industries

The situation may replicate in the construction industries where workers of different backgrounds, and professionals with disparate mindsets and interests in multi-disciplinary project teams, come together for a particular project.

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Picture: WhatsApp in construction has become popular.

WhatsApp is a private form of communication. It provides a platform where friends can chat and share information. However, if it is used for business or project management, there may be potential threats to an organisation itself or the relationship with its business partners. As in the India case, any member of a WhatsApp group can deliberately spread false information to mislead others. As it is an unofficial usage, there are no screening or monitoring to ensure the authenticity of the messages and avoidance of abuses.

WhatsApp does not provide functions to separate business from private communications. Its users therefore risk leaking project data to other personal friends when they rely on the app for both project management and instant communication with friends. Although data leak is normally caused by mistakes, the consequence could be disastrous. That is why WhatsApp has introduced a new function for message deletion. But things done are done. It is too late when you realise your messages are spread afar.

The use of WhatsApp for semi-official communications with workmates could also lead to legal or contractual disputes. By joining a WhatsApp group, one’s profile picture and mobile number have to be publicised. Such personal data will enable others to identify his/her accounts in other social media, which is not the original intention of most participants.

Different members of a WhatsApp group may have different understandings or interpretations on the legitimacy of each person in the group. For example, should the Contractor proceeds with an emergent repair work after he notifies the Project Manager but pending his written confirmation in a WhatsApp group? Will it be a case of acquiescence if eventually no response is received from the Project Manager? Using WhatsApp for this purpose is bound to disputes of this kind.

A final remark

To conclude, I would quote The Disadvantages of Using Whatsapp for Business Purposes. It reads:

“While many people have understood the importance of a “Whatsapp for Enterprise” for the internal business communication, less people yet see the importance of the integration of a messaging app into the IT ecosystem. This is an increasingly important component of an enterprise messaging app though. Businesses can automate workflows, accelerate processes, improve operational execution and increase the productivity with an integration of e.g. ERP, CRM, accounting, HR, manufacturing and logistics system into enterprise messaging”.

Blockchain and the built environment: how far are they connected?

How Blockchain helps with efficient use of electricity

Answer: could be closely.

Efficient use of energies especially electricity is a major concern for building’s life cycle costing, in particular in this era when everyone is talking about saving the earth’s resources for a sustainable growth of economy and for our next generations.

From the economists’ point of view, the most efficient way to achieve optimum use of energies is through trading in free markets. The question is: how can this happen?

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is commonly linked to cryptocurrencies. It is a network of individual computers or digital ledgers, that enable each transaction using cryptocurrencies, e.g. Bitcoins, to be checked. Inside the network, the computers that record transactions are operated separately and independently, hence ensuring accuracy and no forgery in transactions or anomaly occurred.

Blockchain provides the medium through which individual energy users can interact with one another and trade to pursue their respective best interests. The Blockchain network creates a free market for the participants to exercise the greatest freedom to determine the right prices for goods and services, and thus proceed with buy-and-sell. Such medium is conventionally involved a lot of middlemen who track each transaction. These middlemen now become the computers who are considered more efficient and reliable than human beings.

TEPCO to decentralize electricity distribution

Electricity is traditionally dispatched to consumers through a central grid system. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) however has been making itself to be the pioneer of applying the Blockchain technologies to decentralize the distribution of electricity. By investing in Electron, a UK energy technology company that harnesses the Blockchain technologies to establish more efficient, flexible, and reliable systems for the energy sector, TEPCO is exploring the potential to change the existing centralised structures to decentralised systems in energy transactions by using Blockchain.

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Picture (above): Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

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Picture (above): Electron, a UK energy technology company that harnesses the Blockchain technologies to establish more efficient, flexible, and reliable systems for the energy sector.

Paul ELLIS, CEO of Electron, foresaw that the vast physical grids that form nowadays utilities system would eventually be replaced by a more robust shared infrastructure. The new infrastructure can identify and record the properties of these assets, enabling peer-to-peer trading of electricity and carbon credits, for example, similar to trading cryptocurrencies.

This prediction is partly supported by the drastic increase of household energies in the wake of the technology boom in the last few decades.

Some hesitations ….

Looking forward, the way to go may not be as promising as the advocates projected. First the Blockchain is still an immature technology, at least for the time being. Second the virtual network of Blockchain is not intended to completely get rid of the physical presence of grids and poles of electricity distribution. Third, intriguingly, Blockchain itself is energy-consuming, contrary to the ultimate aim of using Blockchain to promote energy-saving.

WIT Press – The 3rd International Conference on Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Design, Construction and Operations

The 3rd International Conference on Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Design, Construction and Operations will be held in Seville, Spain. Papers to be presented at this conference will be published by WIT Press (Wessex Institute of Technology), one of the publishers of international journals.

Most noticeable journals it publishes include the following:

Hence, the papers published in this conference are likely to have good dissemination, given WIT’s reputation and its eLibrary.

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Picture: The 3rd International Conference on Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Design, Construction and Operations.

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