Collaboration means more than meeting people. Digital collaboration means more than emailing them. A major connecting element in today’s digital collaboration is the ubiquitous cloud, computing’s collection place.

Although construction firms have been accused of being the slowest segment to computerize, that is rapidly changing as factors, such as the cloud, make going digital easier. As COVID-19 unleashed a great acceleration in digital transformation across all sectors, with so much to gain and so much at stake, the speed of transformation among construction companies during the past few months has been impressive.

When unrest and protests populate the evening news, thoughts quickly focus on security for the home. Builders and architects are taking notice and adding security measures to their plans and offering a variety of options that can increase the homeowner’s comfort level. Among the options being offered are cameras and sensors that allow monitoring of access points as well as the interior.

Leica Geosystems recently introduced its BLK247 security product that addresses the need for 3D sensors in today’s surveillance industry. It provides an entry to true 3D surveillance technology and makes accurate decisions on when to trigger an alarm. It also creates new opportunities for security systems integrators to offer one of the industry’s most innovative surveillance products.

In June, we noted the NEXT Coalition’s Construction Safety Challenge and explained how an industry group focused on infrastructure and construction was challenging the industry to come up with new and innovative ideas for meeting the COVID-19’s impact on jobsites across the country. The original companies forming the NEXT Coalition were Black & Veatch, DPR Construction, Haskell, and McCarthy Building Companies. They were soon joined by Swinerton and Truebeck Construction.

The NEXT Coalition has now chosen five pilot projects meant to protect crews against challenges posed by COVID-19. The pilot projects—chosen from 84 applications and products from 78 companies and startups who responded to a call for coronavirus solutions—include wearable technology for contact tracing and social distancing, digital pre-screening of workers, and smart video monitoring for health and safety.

In commercial property insurance, facilities that incorporate added safety and risk avoidance measures, such as sprinkler systems, are considered a ‘Highly Protected Risk’ and can earn more favorable insurance rates and terms. With a greater adoption of technology on construction jobsites, the opportunity exists to extend more competitive insurance coverage and capacity for projects that are taking action to reduce risks.

Bridges are common; they’ve been around for thousands of years. Airports have used moving walkways for decades. Now the two are being combined as thyssenkrupp Elevator provides surface-mounted, modular moving walks for longest pedestrian bridge in the U.S.

thyssenkrupp Elevator will provide six of its moving iwalks for a 1,000-foot pedestrian bridge being built on the 1.5 million-sq.ft. campus for United Shore, home to WHM (wholesale mortgage) lending company. When completed, the pedestrian bridge will be the longest in the U.S. Final installation of all six iwalks is expected in 2021.

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.

Like them or not, electric vehicles are here now and will be a growing market for the future. 2020 was a crucial year for the electric vehicle industry, according to research firm Prescient & Strategic Intelligence (P&S), with many electric vehicle manufacturers planning the launch of new models to increase their market presence. But the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the picture altogether. The electric vehicle market, which was estimated to cross the 3 million-unit mark in 2020, is now projected to fall by 15.0%, to 1.8 million units, in 2020.

The growth of EVs was spurred by an event on March 7, 2012 when President Obama launched the EV-Everywhere Challenge at the Daimler Truck factory in Mt. Holly, NC. The idea was to being together scientists, engineers, and businesses to work collaboratively to make electric vehicles more affordable and convenient to own and drive than gasoline-powered vehicles by the year 2022. The intended result was to have the United States be the first to produce a 5-passenger affordable electric vehicle with a payback time of less than 5 years and sufficient range and fast-charging ability to enable average Americans everywhere to meet their daily transportation needs more conveniently and at lower cost.

The USDA (Dept. of Agriculture) does a lot more than support farm prices in hard economy times. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas. Despite the current pandemic, the Administration is helping rural places look to the future and this is opening up opportunities to keep contractors working.

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.

Construction has slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic as contracts have been cancelled, often due to owners or developers being closed or, in the case of infrastructure, governments being stressed by lack of tax revenue. Workers have been furloughed, jobsites closed, increased costs for onsite safety and virus prevention have multiplied and, in some states, things are not looking better in the near future.

Sixty percent of firms responding to a recent survey by the AGC (Associated General Contractors of America) and Autodesk report having at least one future project postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus, while 33% report having projects that were already underway halted because of the pandemic. The share of firms reporting canceled projects has nearly doubled since the survey AGC conducted in June, when 32% of respondents reported cancellations.

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