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AI that Scans a Construction Site can Spot Wrongdoing

AI that Scans a Construction Site can Spot Wrongdoing

MIT Technology Review in its Artificial intelligence/Machine learning informs that AI that scans a construction site can spot wrongdoing with the progress of work, etc. We all know and expect that the increasing digitalisation of the process of construction will eventually end up with Construction sites of the future ‘will be people-free’. This being another story, let us hear the MIT’s.

Building sites in Europe are now using image recognition software made by Buildots that flags up delays or errors automatically. It is by Will Douglas Heaven who elaborates how AI that scans a construction site can spot when things are falling behind.

October 16, 2020

Construction sites are vast jigsaws of people and parts that must be pieced together just so at just the right times. As projects get larger, mistakes and delays get more expensive. The consultancy Mckinsey estimates that on-site mismanagement costs the construction industry $1.6 trillion a year. But typically you might only have five managers overseeing construction of a building with 1,500 rooms, says Roy Danon, founder and CEO of British-Israeli startup Buildots: “There’s no way a human can control that amount of detail.”

Danon thinks that AI can help. Buildots is developing an image recognition system that monitors every detail of an ongoing construction project and flags up delays or errors automatically. It is already being used by two of the biggest building firms in Europe, including UK construction giant Wates in a handful of large residential builds. Construction is essentially a kind of manufacturing, says Danon. If high-tech factories now use AI to manage their processes, why not construction sites?

AI is starting to change various aspects of construction, from design to self-driving diggers. Some companies even provide a kind of overall AI site inspector that matches images taken on site against a digital plan of the building. Now Buildots is making that process easier than ever by using video footage from GoPro cameras mounted on the hard hats of workers.

When managers tour a site once or twice a week, the camera on their head captures video footage of the whole project and uploads it to image recognition software, which compares the status of many thousands of objects on site—such as electrical sockets and bathroom fittings—with a digital replica of the building.  

The AI also uses the video feed to track where the camera is in the building to within a few centimeters so that it can identify the exact location of the objects in each frame. The system can track the status of around 150,000 objects several times a week, says Danon. For each object the AI can tell which of three or four states it is in, from not yet begun to fully installed.

Site inspections are slow and tedious, says Sophie Morris at Buildots, a civil engineer who used to work in construction before joining the company. The Buildots AI gets rid of many repetitive tasks and lets people focus on important decisions. “That’s the job people want to be doing—not having to go and check if the walls have been painted or if someone’s drilled too many holes in the ceiling,” she says.

Another plus is the way the tech works in the background. “It captures data without the need to walk the site with spreadsheets or schedules,” says Glen Roberts, operations director at Wates. He says his firm is now planning to roll out the Buildots system at other sites.

Comparing the complete status of a project with its digital plan several times a week has also made a big difference during the covid-19 pandemic. When construction sites were shut down to all but the most essential on-site workers, managers on several Buildots projects were able to keep tabs on progress remotely.

But AI won’t be replacing those essential workers anytime soon. Buildings are still built by people. “At the end of the day, this is a very labor-driven industry, and that won’t change,” says Morris.

Change note: we have changed the text to clarify how the Buildots system differs from others.

Skyscrapers Will Be Built Like Sponges

Skyscrapers Will Be Built Like Sponges

Caroline Delbert tells us The Next Generation of Skyscrapers Will Be Built Like Sponges and sheds some light on Why the animal’s strange skeleton is crucial to the future of construction.


13 October 2020marine sponge inspires skyscraper constructionOZGUR DONMAZ/GETTY/MATHEUS FERNANDES/HARVARD SEAS

The next generation of skyscrapers could be, well, spongey. Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences say a lattice reinforced with diagonals, inspired by the structures built by sponges, could mean lighter, but stronger skyscrapers and bridges.

Sponges are wild. They’re not just alive—they’re resilient predators that reproduce sexually, despite having no organs or tissues or even a traditional “inside” of their body structures. In a way, they’re living structures already, and their sturdiness is what helps them survive.

The researchers explain in their new paper:

“The predominantly deep-sea hexactinellid sponges are known for their ability to construct remarkably complex skeletons from amorphous hydrated silica. The skeletal system of one such species of sponge, Euplectella aspergillum, consists of a square-grid-like architecture overlaid with a double set of diagonal bracings, creating a chequerboard-like pattern of open and closed cells.”

Beginning with this structure as a guide, the scientists built a 3D physics model and put the sponge and a selection of other traditional building types through the ringer. “[U]sing a combination of finite element simulations and mechanical tests on 3D-printed specimens of different lattice geometries, we show that the sponge’s diagonal reinforcement strategy achieves the highest buckling resistance for a given amount of material,” they conclude.

Existing things use both square and diagonal lattices depending on the item. If you’ve owned enough plastic milk crates in your life, you’ve likely seen both structures just in those designs.ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOWhttps://dc349419a6f5a80cdd0dfe662fdc99d4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://dc349419a6f5a80cdd0dfe662fdc99d4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

composite rendering that transitions from a glassy sponge skeleton on the left to a welded rebar based lattice on the right

Composite rendering that transitions from a glassy sponge skeleton on the left to a welded rebar-based lattice on the right. PETER ALLEN, RYAN ALLEN, AND JAMES C. WEAVER/HARVARD SEAS

But the sponge-inspired lattice is double layered, resulting in something more like a basket weave you may have seen on the seat of a wooden chair. By testing the structural strength of the sponge, researchers have combined the best of building with the best of weaving, in a way.

The most important takeaway, they say, could be to build the same strength and size of building, but with less building materials. They could also just broadly improve the materials used for less optimal designs, especially in infrastructure like bridges. The scientists explain:

“Our results demonstrate that lessons learned from the study of sponge skeletal systems can be exploited for the realization of square lattice geometries that are geometrically optimized to avoid global structural buckling, with implications for improved material use in modern infrastructural applications.”

Indeed, they’ve already applied for the patent.

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Dubai economy to contract by 11% this year

Dubai economy to contract by 11% this year

Dubai economy to contract by 11% this year: S&P as the international lockdown impacted international travel to and stay in the previously popular spots of the world. Dubai, for its particular regional specifics and as the most popular venue in the Gulf region, seems to endure the most critically the pandemic or all the safeguards against it.


Dubai’s economy will contract by around 11% in 2020, owing mainly to the Covid-19 impact on its travel and tourism industry, the sector most affected by the pandemic, according to an S&P Global Ratings report. 

Dubai economy to contract by 11% this year

As per S&P estimate, Dubai’s gross general government debt will reach about 77% of GDP in 2020.

Low oil prices have had broad effects on GCC economies, of which Dubai is one, but hydrocarbons directly contribute only about 1% to Dubai’s total GDP. 

The indirect effect of weaker demand from Dubai’s neighbours will dampen Dubai’s trade, tourism, and real estate markets, it stated.

Although Dubai’s economy is somewhat more diversified than that of most its regional peers, the report anticipates an economic contraction of around 11% of GDP in 2020, recovering to 2019 levels by 2023. 

STR Global, a data intelligence and benchmarking firm, reported Dubai’s hotel occupancy rate at 26% in June as inbound tourism sharply declined following global lockdowns and much-reduced air travel designed to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

The fact that fewer residents left Dubai during the hot summer months and instead spent more domestically to some extent has supported the economy. Local support for the economy cannot, however, offset the almost complete shutdown of inbound international tourism for most of 2020, and the likely slow recovery of the long-haul aviation that Dubai specializes in.

The Dubai government now expects to post a deficit of AED12 billion (3.2% of GDP) this year, largely owing to the reduction in economic activity and the consequent expected 28% decline in revenue, stated S&P Global Ratings. 

It also expects significant off-balance-sheet expenditure, resulting in the government’s net debt position worsening by more than what the headline deficit would imply, as has occurred in previous years.

S&P Global Ratings pointed out that the below-the-line expenditure which causes the variance between headline deficits and the change in net debt mostly involves support for Dubai’s government-related entities (GREs), an example of which is the recently disclosed AED7.3 billion (1.9% of GDP) already provided to national carrier Emirates in 2020. 

Support for GREs will likely be appreciably larger in 2020 than in the past, due to the broad cross-sector shock to Dubai’s economy, it added.

The ratings major said that in total, it expected new government bond issuance and loans to total around 7% of GDP in 2020. The government has issued AED8.4 billion (2.2% of GDP) of public debt so far in 2020, marking the biggest year for Dubai’s debt issuance since 2009. 

“This, in combination with recently disclosed new bilateral and syndicated facilities through June 2020 (facilities that have increased by AED15 billion (4% of GDP) since Dubai’s previous end-2018 disclosures) supports our estimation that 2020 will be another year where debt accumulation far exceeds the headline deficit,” it stated in the review.

TradeArabia News Service

Public Realm in Saudi Giga Urban Projects?

Public Realm in Saudi Giga Urban Projects?

Is enough being done to shape the public realm in Saudi Giga urban projects? asks Hadi Khatib. His findings are as published in AMEinfo of  September 25, 2020.

When it comes to building cities, developers need to understand target customers to uncover their needs and priorities and allow them to share feedback and make sure that what’s being built actually works for them

– Technology like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) help achieve placemaking
– Three Saudi Kingdom Cities will be part of the world’s top 100 Global Cities
– Cities are facing difficulties where there is surging demand on infrastructure, services, mobility and housing

There are key experience considerations when planning master developments, giga projects, and cities.

Kristine Pitts, Director of ExperienceLab  Middle East says “In a country that is rapidly changing and developing like Saudi Arabia, and with increasing competition for people’s attention, in-depth understanding of target audiences and actively designing with and for them will be key to attracting them to live, work and play. Build it and they will come is a risky strategy.”

Cities from scratch

KSA’s giga projects such as NEOM are cities from scratch where new residents, office workers, and visitors need to collectively create new communities within the newly built structure. 

In Qiddiya, Saudi is creating spaces for Saudis seeking a different kind of lifestyle, and for expats seeking something that feels familiar compared to what they are used to. But what draws them? What are the deciding factors that make them choose to live, set up their workplace, or spend their Friday afternoons?

Public Realm in Saudi Giga Urban Projects?

ExperienceLab encourages bringing the residents, visitors, and office workers into the design process to collaboratively define and shape patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.

Physical spaces are defined by their physical edges, but places are defined by the people, activities, and engagements within them.  

Placemaking

‘Placemaking’ refers to a collaborative process by which to shape the public realm in order to maximize shared value. The concept facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. 

Public Realm in Saudi Giga Urban Projects?

Technology, like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), helps achieve this when showcasing designs before plans are finalized. 

Planning ahead

The best places are those that have adapted to change, and not being constrained or limited by short-sighted planning, architecture, or engineering.

Obvious factors to look at are green spaces, experiences, and what drives authentic community relationships.  

Office workers need more than office space; they need the urban realm, a place to take time out, eat, and socialize.

People also need a way to get there! Where they live is a factor of their proximity to work, schools, and healthcare needs.

Public Realm in Saudi Giga Urban Projects?

Also, technology underpins great cities, whether that’s accommodating autonomous transport, smart buildings, or adapting our spaces for the use of mobile technology.  

The Global Future Cities Index measures a total of 21 metrics against 24 participating Global Cities – a total of 504 data points.

Three Saudi Kingdom Cities will be part of the world’s top 100 Global Cities: The Red Sea, NEOM, and Qiddiya.  

Aecom and NEOM

America’s largest design engineering firm, Aecom, has been appointed to handle the design and support of the “backbone infrastructure” for NEOM, a futuristic, intelligent, and sustainable urban living and development set to deliver some of the highest quality living standards that the world has ever seen.  

The need for a public realm

According to UN-Habitat, public spaces now comprise just 2% of the area of Middle Eastern cities, compared with 12% in the average European city. Often, the requirement for new infrastructure comes at the expense of green spaces. For example, in Riyadh, the land devoted to parks, squares, and other public spaces per person has fallen by 80% in half a century. 

Learning from the recent past

Jeddah is a radically re-planned city in a rapidly developing economy, but one where largely unusable public spaces have fallen short of meeting people’s everyday needs and aspirations.

A recent massive survey showed many participants having a negative view of public space quality both within their neighborhoods and citywide. 

When asked how far public spaces attract people, respondents thought they did not. Most residents say increased distances between buildings discourage people from exploring outdoor areas with wider streets and widely dispersed spaces.  

Regarding the design and construction of public spaces within modern neighborhoods, most pointed at the lack of such spaces and pedestrian networks. The rigid edges and poor finishes of public spaces negatively affected visual character, creating unpleasant urban images, some respondents said. Also, the lack of shaded areas and climate protection discouraged the public from outdoor areas.

The New Jeddah waterfront was described as suffering from traffic congestion, crowds, litter, the careless attitudes of visitors, and a lack of well-maintained public toilets. 

Jeddah has a shortage of affordable housing which means that more than one million people, a third of the population, live in unplanned settlements.  

The common tales of cities facing difficulties include surging demand on infrastructure and services, mobility constraints, housing backlogs, limited access to clean water, rising pollution levels, lack of waste management and environmental sustainability, among others. 

Saudi has witnessed a steep rise in urban population (over 83% of the population now lives in urban areas) and infrastructure demand resulted from tremendous economic growth.

Earliest Evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian Peninsula

Earliest Evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian Peninsula

Prehistoric desert footprints are earliest evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian Peninsula and are elaborated on by Richard Clark-Wilson, Royal Holloway.

Humanity originated on the African continent at least 300,000 years ago. We know from fossil evidence in southern Greece and the Levant (modern-day Israel) that some early members of our species expanded beyond Africa around 200,000 years ago, and again between 120,000 to 90,000 years ago. They likely travelled through the Sinai peninsula, which formed the only land bridge connecting the continent of Africa to the rest of the world, before moving north into a landscape with a Mediterranean climate.

But it was not known at what point humans turned south after crossing the Sinai peninsula, reaching modern day Saudi Arabia. It is also often assumed that they may have taken a coastal route, avoiding the currently harsh desert interior. Previous fossil finds show this was not the case, with humans moving into the heart of Arabia at least 85,000 years ago. Now, new research pushes this date back even further.

Colleagues and I discovered human and other animal footprints embedded on an ancient lake surface in the Nefud Desert in Saudi Arabia that are around 120,000 years old. These findings represent the earliest evidence for Homo sapiens on the Arabian Peninsula, and demonstrates the importance of Arabia for understanding human prehistory.

Map of modern day Saudi Arabia.
Key locations for early Homo sapiens outside-of-Africa (red stars). The Nefud Desert is highlighted inside the black rectangle. Google Maps

The Nefud Desert in modern-day Saudi Arabia lies around 500km to the southeast of the Sinai Peninsula. Today, the Arabian deserts are some of the most inhospitable environments in the world. They would form an impassable barrier for prehistoric humans or large mammals. Imagine standing at the foot of a hyper-arid desert equipped with stone tools and not much else. Could you get across? Probably not.

Scientific analysis shows that for most of their recent history, they were climatically similar to today: hyper-arid and impassable. But there is also evidence to show that at certain times in the past, the deserts transformed into savannah-like grasslands littered with freshwater resources. These “green” phases were likely short, probably lasting no more than a few millennia. Nonetheless, they provided windows of opportunity for humans and other animals to move into a new green landscape.

We know from fossil lake sediments that the Nefud Desert was one of those that periodically transformed into a more attractive landscape in the past, and the new footprints prove that early humans took advantage of one such window.

Faint footprint in yellow rock.
First human footprint discovered at the Alathar ancient lake. © Klint Janulis, Author provided

Fossilised footprints

We were able to date the footprints by using a technique called luminescence dating to a period of time 102-132,000 years ago. Based on wider regional evidence for increased rainfall, we suggest they date to a period roughly 120,000 years ago, called the last interglacial.

We know that around this time that vast river systems spread across the Sahara Desert, with Middle Palaeolithic archaeology scattered along them. Other evidence for increased rainfall at this time comes from fossil stalagmites found in caves in desert regions in Arabia and ~500 km north of the Nefud in the Negev Desert. These features only grow in conditions where rainfall is greater than 300mm per year; substantially more than the amount (<90mm per year) they receive today.

While it is difficult to know for sure which species of human left these prints, we think they were most likely left by our own, Homo sapiens. This is based on the fact that Homo sapiens were present in the Levant, 700km to the north of the Nefud Desert, at a similar time. Neanderthals were absent from the Levant in this period and did not move back into the region until thousands of years later, when cooler conditions prevailed. Estimates of the humans mass and statue based on the footprints are also more consistent with our species than Neanderthals.

A man walks across a desert landscape.
Earliest Evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian Peninsula
Researcher surveying the Alathar ancient lake deposit for footprints. © Palaeodeserts Project, Author provided

High-res history

In addition to human footprints, elephant, horse and camel prints were also found. These footprints, studied in detail by Mathew Stewart at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, provide a wealth of new information regarding prehistoric interactions between humans, animals and the environment.

Footprints are a unique form of fossil evidence as they provide precise snapshots in time that typically represent a few hours or days. This is a resolution we do not get from other records. They also allow us to understand the behaviour of their makers, which is something we cannot get from fossils.

This allows us to understand the relationship between humans and other large mammals at a geologically precise moment in time.

Environmental analysis on the lake sediments show that the lake contained fresh “drinkable” water, while the variety of footprints shows that humans, elephants, camels and horses were using this resource at a similar time. Human and large-mammal movements would have been closely tied to fresh water and the pattern of footprints show both foraged on the lake bed when it was temporarily exposed. Humans may have been drawn to the area as they tracked large mammals, who would potentially serve as prey.

Animal prints in stone.
Earliest Evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian Peninsula
Animal fossils eroding out of the surface of the Alathar ancient lake deposit. © Badr Zahrani, Author provided

Surveys and analysis of fossils recovered from the site also shows that there are no stone tools or butchery of fossils. This indicates that the footprint-makers only very briefly visited the lake, foraging for resources before continuing on their journey.

It is not clear what happened to the people who left the footprints, but evidence suggests that they, along with the other early Homo sapiens explorers, either died out or retreated to more favourable environments as aridity returned to the desert.

Richard Clark-Wilson, PhD Candidate in Geography, Royal Holloway

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

$810 billion in mega tourism projects across Saudi Arabia

$810 billion in mega tourism projects across Saudi Arabia

Massive investments worth over $810 billion in mega tourism projects across Saudi Arabia is expected to transform the kingdom into one of the largest leisure tourism sectors in the world between now and 2030, according to a research conducted by the Middle East and North Africa Leisure Attractions Council (Menalac), the leisure and entertainment industry council representing the Middle East’s dynamic leisure attractions sector. Here is Trade Arabia‘s from Riyadh.

Saudi to be among world’s big leisure tourism hubs by 2030

These include the $500 billion mega development Neom which leads the list of the mega projects followed by the $10 billion Qiddiyah Project, spread across 334 sq km in Riyadh. 

The third project is Amaala, or the Saudi Riviera, located in the northern region with an area of 3,800 sq km, and developing islands in the Red Sea with a total area of 34,000 sq km. 

Once completed, it will deliver a futuristic mega sustainable city.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia is looking to more than double its investment in recreation from the current 2.9% to 6% by 2030. 

Mishal Al Hokair, Board Member of Menalac, said: “Saudi Arabia has an array of dynamic plans and attractions planned over the next few years, each of which will add to the fast growing Leisure and Entertainment sector.”

“Its Vision 2030 will change the entire economic and tourism landscape of not only Saudi Arabia, but the entire Middle East region, that will have a massive positive knock-on effect on the leisure tourism industry,” noted Al Hokair.

“Once the current Covid-19 situation improves, the investment and development in the Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector will bring massive opportunities for the industry. It is time for everyone to prepare for the next big growth,” he added.

Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the country’s tourism regulator, said the mega tourism projects being developed by Public Investment Fund will be spread over an area of more than 64,634 sq km, with a value exceeding $810 billion.

In addition, SCTH will be developing museums in various Saudi regions, and preserving Saudi heritage with a cost of more than $1.3 billion. 

Saudi Arabia foresees that the national tourism will significantly contribute to the gross domestic product as the most growing non-oil economic sector.  The tourism revenues increased to more than SR193 billion ($51 billion) in 2017, and to more than SR211 billion ($56 billion) in 2018, SCTH said in a report.

In 2017, the kingdom’s tourism sector had attracted $28.6 billion, more than six times the world average in tourism capital investment, it added.

Despite the current situation with regards to Covid-19, Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with construction of some of these massive projects. A number of construction contracts have recently been awarded following the partial re-opening of the economy after the lockdown.

Red Sea Development Company has recently awarded construction contracts worth $1 billion while Neom has awarded Bechtel and Aecom programme management contract.

Changes and growth in Saudi tourism landscape will help leisure attractions operators in the Middle East and North African (Mena) countries. The recent reopening of the land borders by Saudi Authorities will help boost regional tourism in the GCC region.

SCTH plans to facilitate investment SR171.05 billion that will boost the tourism industry capacity and the number of hotel rooms to 621,600 rooms and boost the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP by 3.1 per cent, and increase direct employment to 1.2 million jobs.

Prakash Vivekanand, the board member of Menalac, said: “The latest news from Saudi Arabia is very encouraging. The government wants to push ahead with the mega projects that will not only boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but also the tourism sector.”

It will create massive opportunities for all the players in the leisure attractions business and we could count on an exciting future for the industry in the Mena region.”

According to Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (Sagia), the country wants to increase investment in recreational facilities to 6 per cent from the current 2.9 per cent per annum – more than double the current level, as part of Saudi Vision 2030.

“In 2017, the Saudi tourism sector had attracted investment of SR172 billion ($28.6 billion), which was six times the world average in tourism capital investments,” according to a report by Sagia. “Investments are expected to rise 5.5 per cent per annum over the next ten years to SR200 billion ($54 billion) per annum.”

Rosa Tahmaseb, Secretary General of Menalac, said: “The leisure attractions industry in the Mena region is upbeat with the new opportunities that are arising in Saudi Arabia.”

“We see massive opportunities for our industry being created by more than a $1 trillion investment in the Saudi economy between now and 2030,” she noted.

Tahmaseb called upon all leisure industry stakeholders, both suppliers and operators to explore these opportunities and ascertain how they can take a leading role in helping Saudi Arabia develop its leisure facilities in the coming decade.

According to her, tourism and entertainment are an essential part of the Saudi Vision 2030 which is aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy by reducing its dependence on oil. 

Saudi Arabia aims to develop versatile tourism destinations, which include several coastal sites, marvellous islands and distinguished heritage areas, all of which will require a high level of expertise, support and the most innovative attractions, technology and experiences to ensure the kingdom becomes one of the top tourist and entertainment destinations in the Middle East within the next few years.

“Despite the short-term setback created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the long-term prospects for our industry remain bright. One example of this can be seen in the dynamic projects planned for Saudi Arabia,” she added.-TradeArabia News Service