Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC)

Category Sponsors & Mentors: Silverstein Properties / Tishman AECOM


The building construction processes in New York City have not changed significantly in the last several decades. Somewhere/sometime in the last fifty years, someone has built the same type of building, using similar processes, to one being built today. One of the bigger problems bedeviling the construction is ignoring proper project close-out, which includes identifying critical mishaps or “lessons learned.” Down the line, a contractor building the same type of building could have referenced previous “lessons learned” to avoid repeating previous mistakes. Implementing proper closeout might reduce the cost of construction consultants and make current contractors more competitive.

As of June 30, 2018, the US Census seasonally adjusted annual value of Construction Put in Place” was $1,317 trillion.  Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) & Development, which is at the heart of that number, refers to the design and build phases of developed land, while development refers to the broader process of buying land, financing deals, building or renovating structures, leasing and managing properties, and often the sale of said properties. Many professions support the AEC & Development process, including architects, attorneys, brokers, engineers, environmental consultants, general contractors, insurers, lenders, project managers, site planners, surveyors, subcontractors, construction trades, and more. 

Register for the competition at YouNoodle

AEC Challenge Cash Prizes: 1st Place: $5,000; 2nd Place $2,000; 3rd Place $1,000


Challenge Overview:

Computing technology has been applied to the fields of Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) since the initial development of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems in the early 1960s. But after that strong start, these industries have lagged dramatically behind many others in taking advantage of accelerating technology. This category of the 2018 REBNY PropTech Challenge seeks innovative solutions that can help catalyze the development and market penetration of new technologies and business models applied to design, development, and construction of residential, commercial and industrial properties. REBNY encourages hackathon participants to consider the following questions:

Challenge Category Areas to Solve:

Below we have listed current challenges faced by the AEC and Development community, with more details included in the following section. While your solution can address multiple category challenges, each submission must solve at least one of the following:

  • How can technology improve site safety?

  • How can job site communication be made more collaborative?

  • How can visualization improve production efficiency?

  • How can technology help Developers review and approve the monthly pay requisition based on real-time site monitoring?

  • How can predictive analysis help contractors create accurate project schedules and allow for day-to-day updates?

  • How can algorithms help architects design the most efficient use of space to maximize office population while reducing the cost of construction, and be code compliant?

  • How technology help us create a dashboard of factors that is public knowledge (news, Interest rates, real estate transactions, pending land use approvals, risk factors, and overall SWOC (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Challenges) in order to make more informed decisions?


Detailed Challenge Category Areas to Solve:

How can technology improve site safety?

  • Accidents occur on site because workers have not been adequately trained in safety precautions when working on site. Virtual and Augmented Reality technology can allow workers to gain critical site safety experience in simulated high-risk situations. Additionally, research has shown that after an hour of instructor lead training most trainees lose focus. VR technology has been proven to keep the attention spans of visually orientated people and improve recall for future safety hazards.

  • Keeping track of construction site safety logs, as well as training certificates and licenses mandated by the Department of Buildings (DOB), requires immense effort at the site level. Identification cards for all site personnel mandated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and DOB need to be physically present at every site for the site safety manager to review. This results in wasted labor as cards are often forgotten at home, lost, or expired. But all this information is already recorded and filed in DOB/ OSHA databases. How can these public databases be integrated with Site Safety programs on the job site, so that workers are not turned away because of missing documentation?

  • What ways can technology be physically deployed on-site to improve safety? Improved harnesses, barriers, warning systems, equipment lockout, or performance monitoring?


How can job site communication be made more collaborative?

  • This is simultaneously the most obvious and most difficult challenge in construction, as it involves coordinating dozens of different firms on a single project. Google Flux was created to share real-time models, marks ups, and data between architects, engineers, and construction managers, but even Google, with its enormous resources, recently pivoted away from trying to solve the problem—because, despite their best efforts, no one would use their collaborative software. The resources and effort put into the coordination process between all of the companies in the AEC process is tremendous, and numerous errors and mishaps result from the breakdown in their lines of communication. Even small advances here might have a great impact.

  • The savings in every facet of the design and construction process could be immense if collaborative software was implemented and used by all parties involved in building construction process. How can this collaboration be implemented, and perhaps more importantly, incentivized? A project-based software application utilized by all of the design team, construction manager, and subcontractors, could fast-track the submittal process, reduce overhead, reduce errors and omissions between the design teams and construction manager’s contractors, and reduce the overall project duration by eliminating coordination, review and approval times.

  • Job site communication between subcontractors and their workers might be improved through project-based communication apps (e.g. sending out instructions, safety highlights, or memos on a per site basis).


How can visualization improve production efficiency?

  • Most of construction is a combination of receptive processes that are taught at the site level to new workers. All subcontractors rely on their employees to educate their new hires and to efficiently install the required work. Part of the bidding process is identifying competent subcontractors who have the skilled labor to efficiently and cost-effectively complete the required job. With the current shortage of skilled labor, it is becoming harder to identify and educate competent personnel for the required work. Virtual reality might be utilized to educate workers on the best construction practices for their respective trades and thus improve the competency of the new labor.

  • Construction errors are subject to the Pareto Principle: 80 percent of problems are caused by the same errors, time and again across different projects. Virtual reality might increase the competency of construction superintendents and project managers by immersing them in a VR simulation that identifies high-risk areas for whatever type of project they are on.

  • Despite the existence and use of CAD software and computerized Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems, a great deal of time is spent before, during and after construction in coordinating plans, drawings, and “as-built” documentation. How might systems combining scanning, visualization and design integration improve this process?


How can technology help developers review and approve the monthly pay requisition from the contractor based on real-time site monitoring?

  • At the site level, there are hundreds of software solutions for requisitions, safety logs, equipment tracking, timekeeping, etc., but the biggest issue for the industry is that no subcontractors are using them. How might new technology or business models get subcontractors to utilize the available software on site and still be competitive?

  • At the end of the workday, drones might be utilized on-site to scan and compare existing conditions against a fully-built 3D BIM model of the building. Numerous mistakes are encountered between physical building components being installed in the incorrect locations or at the wrong elevations. What other uses might drones or other autonomous devices have in the construction process? Monitoring, safety, assembly, documentation, verification, security…other areas?


How can predictive analysis help contractors create accurate project schedules and allow for day-to-day updates?

Other aspects of the AEC industry that might benefit from new technologies and businesses include:

  • How can technology improve the collaboration between the design team and construction team?

  • How can we utilize technology to reduce field and design errors among all members of the building construction team?

  • How can technology reduce overhead and improve the internal efficiency and productivity of construction subcontractors?

  • How can we get subcontractors to fully integrate technology into their operations?

  • How can virtual and augmented reality be utilized in the building construction industry?

  • If architects begin design from a clean slate for every project, can we utilize technology to create a standardized database for the schematic and design development stages of building plans?

  • How can technology improve the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) coordination process?

  • How can technology improve equipment tracking for building maintenance staff and construction contractors?

  • How can technology improve site monitoring for the CM/GC construction team?

  • How can predictive analysis and productivity algorithms identify areas where construction productivity might be improved? (i.e. modular, prefabrication,)

  • How can technology help contractors retain “lessons learned,” at the end of the job to improve future construction productivity and reduce errors?

  • How can technology be used to compile a database of trade specific construction standards and building type construction processes that can be utilized by future contractors for improved efficiency and productivity?

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