Smart cities need smart technology along with smart ways to adopt that technology. With the increasing number of vehicles needed for everyday work and transportation, with personal transportation such as motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, and their electric equivalents, and the normal walking crowds in downtown areas, traffic monitoring and analysis is a major component of smart cities.

Smart-city developments around the globe are anticipated to increase in the next several years—with a number of organizations predicting substantial growth. The pandemic in many cases is accelerating this need, as regulatory bodies are hyper focused on monitoring the health and safety of citizens. With the rise of the digital twin, cities have a tool to help make this a reality.

There is great potential for steady growth in the global smart-city market, with MarketsandMarkets predicting it will grow from $410.8 billion in 2020 to $820.7 billion by 2025, which is a growth rate of 14.8%. This includes adoption in transportation, utilities, buildings, and citizen services, thanks to the uptick in the IoT (Internet of Things), big data, analytics, cloud, security, and network connectivity.

Schools are beginning the slow and, hopefully, safe process of reopening from the months long closure mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Management, maintenance and service staff have been working to get the physical plants ready for the students, teachers and support personnel but in some cases, with buildings shut down for extended periods of time, the facilities are in need of far more than disinfectant wipes.

Indoor air quality is a critical subject as schools reopen and teachers and students return to their classrooms. Companies that can provide advanced HVAC and associated systems can be community leaders. One such company is Modine Manufacturing Co. Modine, with fiscal 2019 revenues of $2.2 billion, specializes in thermal management systems and assemblies, bringing highly engineered heating and cooling components, original equipment products, and systems to diversified markets. Their HVAC technology is state-of-the-art and provides upgrades for major school projects to ensure high-quality indoor air for those returning to in-person classes following pandemic-related closure.

The COVID-19 has slowed the construction industry but, in most states, not caused it to stop entirely. Office employees might be working remotely (stay-at-home mandates, while being lifted, are still in place in some states), but trades are on the jobsite. And that can cause a problem.

Are employees following the rules on exposure to the coronavirus? On the job, supervision can enforce those rules but after hours, anything can go. When the worker returns to the jobsite, adverse behavior on personal time can create health hazards for others. There may be an answer, however.

U.S. lodging industry contributes nearly $660 billion to U.S. GDP according to the AHLA (American Hotel & Lodging Assn.) With record low travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of independent hotels cannot afford to pay their commercial mortgages and are facing foreclosure with the potential of having to close permanently. Tens of thousands of hotel employees will lose their jobs and small businesses that depend on these hotels to drive local tourism and economic activity will likely face a similar fate.

A report, from research firm Trepp, shows that the hotel industry is facing a historic wave of foreclosures as COVID-19 continues to devastate the country. Since the beginning of the pandemic in February, the hotel segment has faced an increasing number of delinquencies and is the most heavily hit sector of the CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities) market.

AI—Artificial Intelligence (or Augmented Intelligence)—has been a buzzword for decades. Every day we hear of things being augmented with AI: autonomous cars, for example. But is AI really growing and being implemented in practical, useful applications?

Apparently so. Worldwide revenues for the AI market, including software, hardware, and services, are expected to total $156.5 billion in 2020, an increase of 12.3% over 2019. While this year’s growth is somewhat slower than previous years due to the economic impact of COVID-19, IDC (ntl. Data Corp.) believes investment in AI will recover quickly.

The Rural Development Program at the Department of Agriculture can be a funding source for small towns that have infrastructure plans but no capital. There are two programs, loans and grants, each with its own requirements and funding sources. Eligible borrowers include public bodies, community-based non-profit corporations, and Federally recognized tribes.

Direct Loans require repayment terms not longer than the useful life of the facility, the applicants’ authority, or a maximum of 40 years, whichever is less. Interest rates are set by Rural Development, and once the loan is approved, the interest rate is fixed for the entire term of the loan. Interest is determined by the median household income of the service area and population of the community. There are no pre-payment penalties.

The federal government is comprised of many departments, agencies, and commissions. Some deal with areas that would seem to be outside their mandate, if you think that mandate is found in their name. The USDA (Dept. of Agriculture), for example, would logically deal with crop and livestock issues but they also address other aspects of what is usually referred to as rural living.

Take for instance an investment the USDA is making in building a new campus for the Winooski School District in Winooski, Vermont. Winooski is a city of about 8,000 people adjacent to Burlington, a city of 43,000. Burlington is the home of the University of Vermont among other attractions while Winooski is the most densely populated municipality in northern New England, an area comprising the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Here at Constructech, we have reported on the value of being able to move data through the construction lifecycle of a project—from design, to construction, and ultimately maintenance and management of a facility. Ideally, BIM (building information modeling) data is generated and shared with everyone throughout the entire project. Now, a new cooperation will help enable a 3D building lifecycle.

Pointfuse and Leica Geosystems, a Hexagon company, announced an agreement to streamline the use of reality capture data. The streamlined workflow provides a solution to capture and convert point clouds into deliverables that drive every stage of the building lifecyle, from design to construction, operations, and maintenance.

The commercial building market is expected to grow in 2020, driven by medical office and industrial buildings while the general office market will see flatter conditions, according to a survey of commercial real estate brokers Transwestern and its Canadian partner Devencore. The commercial building market is expected to grow in 2020, driven by medical office and industrial buildings while the general office market will see flatter conditions, according to a survey of commercial real estate brokers Transwestern and its Canadian partner Devencore.

While it predicts the U.S. office sector should remain relatively steady, medical offices will boost the overall market.