Ongoing research and innovation can help catapult the construction industry into the next generation of technology use. Things like RFID (radio-frequency identification), location and mapping, and more are being researched in depth these days.

In Canada, for example, the federal government indicated it wants to see more industry-focused research and innovation. Enter CCI (Canadian Construction Innovations).

In June 2011, the CCA (Canadian Construction Assn.), www.cca-acc.com, Ottawa, Ont., passed a motion to examine the feasibility of establishing an institute for research and innovation in construction. The group initially did some research, holding roundtable meetings with members of industry and academia to discuss whether or not there was a need for such an institute and how an institute might function in Canada.

Recently, start-up funding for Canadian Construction Innovations was approved, and the process has begun to establish a board and hire an executive director. While the institute is currently still in the start-up phases, the plan is to have a board set the strategic direction for CCI, and then the board will establish networks in support of that industry-focused priority set.

While Canada is looking to drive innovation in the construction industry, there are similar organizations across the globe that have been created to help the industry understand how technology can change processes in construction.

For example, in the United Kingdom, COMIT (Construction Opportunities for Mobile IT), www.comitproject.org.uk, Berkshire, England, started back in 2003 as a two-year pilot project. By 2005, the organization became a self-funded organization. COMIT has members identify different areas where mobile IT can be used in construction. From there, cross-sector, cross-industry teams come together to determine feasibility of the project and deploy the solutions. Such research here includes RFID, rapid site setup, location and mapping, and more.

In Canada, CCI will operate in a very similar manner to an organization such as COMIT. As the construction industry looks to embrace the changing nature of technology, organizations such as this can help guide the market to the areas of innovation that stand to provide the greatest value for the long run.