IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 44

Armed with Tech
by Karl Sorensen

There's a widespread and systemic fragmentation
within the built environment industry. Every
project has a seemingly endless list of factors
that impact its regulations and requirements: is
it commercial, residential, or municipal? Who
owns it: an individual, company, government? Is it
domestic or international? Who's involved on the
design team in-house and externally? What kind
of contract is it structured under? The variables
and nuances are endless, and every one of these
can have an influence on the project, sometimes
even dictating the type of contractors and
materials used.
This segmentation has caused technologies to
fragment, even within departments of the same
companies. One system might be developed for
lighting designers in commercial environments,
another for electrical contractors on federal
projects. Far from solutions, these are really just
Band-Aids-like popping a pill for a symptom of
an illness instead of taking medicine that treats
the whole ailment.
The real Catch-22 of technology in the design
industry is this: those who see the problems
first-hand have no decision-making power, and
those who have decision-making power don't
always see the problems. If a project architect or
a construction manager runs into a technological
limitation or workflow pain-point, how does it
get resolved? They can't personally go out and
acquire enterprise software on behalf of the
company. They don't have that type of decisionmaking power, so they rely on management to
make those decisions. But management often
doesn't fully understand or see the problem
first-hand, and often they don't want to make an
investment in new technology. The costs don't
seem to justify the solution so they don't purchase
a solution and the problem perpetuates. 
Sometimes it's the other way around, and the
management team buys a solution thinking
that it will help the team, only it's not the
solution the team really needs. In the end,
such investments are often under-used and
management eventually views their investment
as wasted, and decision-makers become even
more averse to new technologies. 

44

There are certainly times when technology can get
in the way, even prevent companies from adapting
to current market conditions. Some companies
are so married to their tech that they're unwilling
to entertain a more progressive, comprehensive,
or flat-out better technology. They may even
acknowledge that their technology is obsolete, but
since they've already invested money in licenses
and trained their entire staff on an older system,
they decide it's not worth converting.
Overall, the disconnect between users and
decision makers has stifled technology creation
and integration. Hackathons have been great for
the industry, because they connect the problem
with the solution. Disappointingly, the exciting
new products created by hackathons-like
software integrations with beacons, drones, 3D
printers-often don't make it to the marketplace.
The developers of these projects are often
students or young professionals who simply don't
have the resources to fund their projects, and their
counterparts within the construction industry
don't have the demand, so these products
die on the table. It's a shame-there are some
tremendously bright young designers producing
some really forward-thinking products, and they'll
never get a chance to see how close they were
to completely disrupting and revolutionizing
the industry. Further, this may be one of the
only ways new technology will be accepted and
adopted. There simply isn't enough time for
employees to figure out new technology when
deadlines are looming. 
The state of tech in design is especially sad
considering the industry is a relative greenfield for technology-there's so much potential,
especially when it comes to mobile systems,
which could revolutionize project sites. Even in
2015, walking onto a jobsite can feel like reliving
the '90s. You could theoretically exit a car that
emits its own wi-fi network, streaming your cloudbased music library while having a video-call with
your brother in Florida, and walk onto a site where
one of the world's leading companies is building
a state-of-the-art new facility, and the toolboxes
contain flip-phones, hand-drawn sketches, paper
drawings, and point-and-shoot cameras (with
a handful of cords). Enabling more mobile
technologies, a superintendent texting a project
manager, a project engineer sending a picture
of something to a designer, has the potential to
have a huge impact.  



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015

IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015
Contents
From IIDA
Behind the Issue
Contributors
Viewpoints
The Innovation Insurrection
Lens Flare
The Once and Future King of Commerce
Point/Counterpoint
All Around the World
Inspiration
Colophon
Design Buzz
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Cover2
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 1
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Contents
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 3
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 4
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - From IIDA
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Behind the Issue
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 7
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Contributors
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 9
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Viewpoints
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 11
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - The Innovation Insurrection
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 13
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 14
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 15
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 16
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 17
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 18
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 19
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Lens Flare
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 21
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 22
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 23
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 24
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 25
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 26
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 27
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 28
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 29
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - The Once and Future King of Commerce
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 31
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 32
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 33
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 34
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 35
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 36
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 37
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 38
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 39
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Point/Counterpoint
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 41
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 42
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 43
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 44
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 45
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - All Around the World
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 47
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 48
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 49
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 50
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 51
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Inspiration
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 53
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - 54
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Colophon
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Design Buzz
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Cover3
IIDA Perspective - Fall/Winter 2015 - Cover4
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