Monthly Archives

March 2016

Artificial intelligence March 2016

The month in AI: March 2016

AI, News, Technology | No Comments

This month we take a look at the world of Artificial Intelligence and its growing presence in daily life.

Google’s AlphaGo wins big

As technology pervades every aspect of our daily life, the role of artificial intelligence is becoming the hot topic for gadget-evangelists and technophobes alike. ‘Computer-learning’technology has been around for decades now, but it’s only now that we’re really beginning to understand the potential impact it could have on society.

In a startling example of how far AI has developed, a Google artificial intelligence programme won a resounding victory over the renowned Go master Lee Se-Dol. Famed for its complexity, the 3,000-year-old board game requires intense concentration and the ability to see several moves ahead at all times. But Google’s AlphaGo programme bested Mr Lee by 4-1, suggesting that algorithms and complex software are developing at a rate that could render many intricate human skills obsolete within a few years. AlphaGo points not only to how far AI has progressed in the past decade but to how quickly it can improve its own understanding. A game that has been honed by the human brain for almost 3,000 years was mastered by AlphaGo over the course of just a few years, with no end to this mechanical evolution in sight.

The success of AlphaGo represents the most significant breakthrough in computer programmed learning since 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer conquered the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov. Demis Hassabis, Chief executive of the company behind AlphaGo, Google DeepMind, was quoted as saying “one day [these algorithms] can be used in all sorts of problems, from health care to science.”
Artificial intelligence March 2016
Go master Lee Se-Dol looks on as AlphaGo takes the upper hand

‘Tay’ sets a dark tone for the future of AI

A less encouraging milestone achieved by AI, Microsoft launched its AI chatbot earlier this month. ‘Tay’, as the programme was affectionately known, was designed to learn from the humans it interacted with through Tweets and DM’s. Microsoft launched ‘Tay Tweets’ claiming the account became more intelligent the more it was used: “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets”.

The software did indeed show a remarkable ability to mimic language structure and adapt to human influence. Sadly, Tay’s digital education wasn’t necessarily a cause for celebration, largely because the teachers she interacted with chose to feed her some extremely questionable material. Within 24 hours of going live, the AI software had turned from a rather rigid, albeit friendly, automaton, into a ‘Hitler-loving sex slave’ with a penchant for Donald Trump quotes and deeply disturbing 9/11 conspiracies. The chat robot, which was modelled to speak like a teen girl, had to be deleted after her replies became increasingly un-PC.
 Artificial intelligence March 2016
Tay, the easily led genocidal robot

Incredibly, Tay isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt at a teen-girl chatbot. Xiaoice was intended as a friendly female companion to provide advice to people using Chinese social networks. With around 20m users globally, Xiaoice has been met with significantly less criticism than her younger digital sibling, although that may be because she has yet to resort to alarming displays of xenophobia and troubling sexual innuendos.


5 ways web analytics can improve your business output

Feature, Industry, Technology | No Comments

Of all the business innovations spawned by the internet, it’s hard to choose one as the most significant. Everything, from our spending habits to the way we learn about the world, is influenced by the presence or lack of an internet connection. Online commerce sites like Amazon changed the way we shop and online payments systems like Paypal changed the way we pay. Likewise, web analytics changed the way business functions forever. Companies no longer have to rely on lead feedback and unreliable representative surveys to understand how their business is perceived. The advent of web analytics allowed companies to see exactly what most interests prospective leads and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. But web analytics feature a host of applications specifically designed to help companies improve their business output. 

Discover more about your audience 

The biggest asset of analytics tools lie in their ability to monitor site engagement and feed data back to the site owner. The way in which you interpret the statistics provided, however, can dramatically affect your understanding of lead behaviour. Web analytics represent more than just an opportunity to target audiences more effectively. When interpreted correctly, web analytics can help you form a snapshot of not just what your audience looks for, but what kind of person they are too. For example, if you find a high number of site views originate from links on social media, you can begin to focus your advertising more heavily through social media platforms. Likewise, some web analytics services offer geographical tracking to see where the majority of your visitors are located, enabling your firm to prioritise appropriate areas.

Web Analytics for business

Gain an insight into your user’s onsite behaviour

Web analytics give an insight into which of your pages are the most popular, what content they respond to, how many people responded to calls to action and much more. This allows you to tailor your future output according to what you know works, including ad campaigns, sales pitches and optimised site content. You can also update previous web pages to bring them more into line with your most popular pages, ensuring a more consistent traffic flow across the site. A bounce refers to a page where a lead visited but took no further action before leaving the site. By studying bounce rates, you can look at where leads lose interest or become lost and rectify any navigation issues these pages may have.

Web analytics for business

Forecast industry trends

Web analytics can offer more than just an insight into the mind of your site visitors. The statistics they provide can also help you predict trends in your industry based on numerous quantifiable factors. Elements such as the access point for your traffic, what keywords are bringing people to your page and which areas of your site receive the highest number of hits can all indicate a new direction for the industry, giving your firm the jump on the competition that could mean the difference between 100 and 1000 customers. Similarly, your analytics can give you an indicator of the vernacular that users are most likely to respond to at that point in time, albeit following some pretty detailed analysis of your current output, or when paired with an SEO tool like Google AdWords.

Web Analytics for business

Set quantifiable targets with measurable improvement 

Analytics are all about quantifying data patterns and drawing conclusions from the statistics provided. By studying where your content is underperforming, you can begin to set perceptible targets and watch as your numbers improve. Studies have shown that people push themselves as hard as a target dictates they should. With quantifiable data fed directly back to your firm, you can begin to optimise your marketing content for specific areas of the site with numerical objectives. Analytics can help you organise ‘stat-raise’ campaigns, where you target specific areas of your site and set a hit rate target to be achieved within a set time-frame.

Numbers And Finance

Use microsites to engage with individual clients

By using microsites to produce personalised marketing content, you can gain new levels of lead qualification with individual clients. With a breakdown of a client’s engagement, microsites can provide regular updates on the site’s performance using Google’s clean but detailed analytics. Microsites have an added value in that they enable you to compare different marketing material sent to different clients in a quantified, measurable setting. 

Web Analytics for business

Google at MIPIM

Google debut at MIPIM 2016

Construction, MIPIM 2016, News, Technology | No Comments

Clemmie, the construction app created in partnership with Google Apps for Work, touched down at MIPIM 2016 in Cannes, Southern France, last week. As the largest real estate and construction expo on the planet, MIPIM 2016 brought together the leading players across multiple industries to share the latest innovations, projects and opportunities. As Google’s first real steps into the competitive construction, engineering and architecture industries, the launch of Clemmie attracted a huge amount of interest from across the exhibition. The tech giant’s presence at MIPIM represents a shift in industry priorities, as more firms begin to recognise the various advantages to Google’s technological approach to marketing and communication.

Within just six months of first being established, Clemmie took to MIPIM and kicked up a stir, with guest speakers from the Google team behind Clemmie on hand to explain the innovative technology in more detail. From on-the-spot demos at the Clemmie MIPIM stand to networking lunches at a charming villa just outside Cannes, the Clemmie team worked tirelessly to bring the innovative technology to MIPIM and give the entire industry the opportunity to create client-specific targeted marketing and prioritise opportunities effectively.

As a partnership between Clemmie & Google, Clemmie is an application designed to enable businesses to engage with and acquire new clients through targeted marketing. Built around one of the most innovative developments to come out of the Google Apps for Work team, the app allows firms to discover new projects as well as effectively pursue them beyond the means and scope of the competition.

Google at MIPIM
A member of the Clemmie team gives a demonstration of Clemmie’s real-world applications

Clemmie is already helping major firms pioneer a new level of industry insight and reach more clients than ever before, but MIPIM provided the first major opportunity to showcase the apps marketing potential to a wider audience. The company is also eagerly awaiting the opportunity to spread news of the app eastward with MIPIM Japan in September of this year, along with several other high-profile networking events.

As industries adapt to changing technology and begin to see the real potential of the digital approach, companies both large and small are grasping just how significant the Clemmie app could be to their business’ success. The launch of Clemmie represents a new stage in the relationship between firm and client. Firms now have the opportunity to engage with clients like never before through the latest in Google-pioneered technology. Judging by the response of industry professionals at MIPIM 2016, the industry has been waiting for this opportunity for quite some time.

make your projects more sustainable

4 technologies to help make your construction projects more sustainable

Construction, Industry, Sustainability, Technology | No Comments

Despite only gaining prominence in the industry’s collective thought process within the past twenty years, sustainable technology is taking centre stage in modern design and construction processes. In the UK, 45% of carbon emissions originate from the built environment. When constructed, these buildings also emit energy and produce waste materials, but designers and industry experts are only just beginning to take a closer look at the effect the built environment has on the natural world around us. As a result, new technologies are springing up, each with an innovative means of reducing the carbon impact of either the design, construction process or the finished structure. Here are just four simple innovations to help make your construction projects more sustainable.

Green and smart roofs

One of the most widely used sustainable technologies in modern construction, green roofs are all about enabling structures to make better use of natural resources, whilst limiting their impact on the surrounding environment. The green roof, or roof garden, is constructed from an impenetrable membrane base layer to prevent leaks into the structure. This is then covered with lightweight soil and a specially selected mix of vegetation designed to withstand torrential rain and periods of drought.

During periods of intense rainfall, the ‘green roof’ absorbs a some of the water, limiting the runoff that would otherwise flood the already saturated areas. The relatively cheap construction costs have made the green roof a popular feature to integrate into existing residential buildings, but when incorporated on a large scale, they can have a significant impact on the amount of runoff left over after a heavy rainfall.

Smart roofs, on the other hand, can play a significant role in reducing the amount of energy required to maintain an optimum temperature inside a building. To construct a smart roof requires materials capable of reflecting solar rays whilst emitting any absorbed heat slowly throughout the day. In doing so, the building below maintains a consistent internal temperature and requires less energy for cooling.
construction firm more sustainable
A green roof in Toronto, Canada. Image by Sookie under CC BY 2.0  license

Smart façade & smart glass

For buildings with a glass façade, smart glass has become an invaluable resource for increasing efficiency and reducing outgoing costs. Thermochromic glass alters colour or transparency according to the amount of heat it has been exposed to. Using thermochromic glass can help filter sunlight during the summer months whilst remaining transparent and allowing in light during the cold winter months, saving money and energy on internal temperature control.

Intelligent glass filters out sunlight and retains heat; intelligent façades are based on the same principle of introducing a control point between the interior and exterior.

Incorporating a smart façade, or ‘skin’ can save up to 35% on energy consumption in large buildings. New technologies, like the Green House in Germany, push the concept of the intelligent façade to new boundaries. Developed by a team of designers from Splitterwerk Architects and Arup, the building’s walls are tinted with millions of microscopic algae. The algae are fed a combination of oxygen and nutrients, which when combined with external light, begins to grow. This growth is harnessed as energy, which is then used inside the building. Similarly, a new hospital under construction in Mexico City utilises the environment around it to increase the quality of life for people inside the building. The Torre de Especialidades is shielded with a façade coated with titanium dioxide, a pigment used in sunscreen capable of neutralizing air pollution in the surrounding atmosphere. The façade eliminates toxins in the air by releasing spongy free radicals, with the potential to counteract the equivalent smog produced by 8,750,100 cars driving by each day.

The Torre de Especialidades is shielded with a façade coated with titanium dioxide, a pigment used in sunscreen capable of neutralizing air pollution in the surrounding atmosphere. The façade eliminates toxins in the air by releasing spongy free radicals, with the potential to counteract the equivalent smog produced by 8,750,100 cars driving by each day.
construction firm more sustainable
Smart façades can reduce the amount of heat lost from a building during winter, and heat absorbed into a building during summer

Water reuse and collection features

Construction, and indeed the whole world, faces a growing issue in water consumption. This applies both to the process of construction, and the resulting structure. When a new building is constructed, the rainwater that would usually soak down into the soil beneath cannot be absorbed. This results in flooding and contaminants running into rural areas, polluting the plants and contaminating the soil. Innovative minds across the world have come together to develop technologies to offset the damage these developments can cause.

Porous paving has been in use for several years now, but it’s only just seeing widespread application across the industry. Likewise, well-positioned tree box filters absorb the surplus runoff from built up areas and prevent flooding. The filters sit under the trees and capture pollutants from the runoff, which is then filtered out before allowing the excess water to drain into other vegetative areas.

Tree box filters not only improve add natural beauty to urban development’s, they store storm and flood runoff and prevent excess water water logging other areas. Soil amendments work in the same way; requiring the combination of just a few soil types which are then introduced to areas of significant rainfall. The appeal of soil amendments lies in its simplicity and low cost, meaning it can be used in almost any new project whilst considerably reducing the impact of the development on the surrounding natural environment.
make your firm more sustainable
A demonstration of porous paving, specially designed to absorb rainfall and prevent flooding

Recycled construction materials

Despite being an integral aspect of the construction process, the use of recycled materials has, until recently, often been seen as a secondary consideration. Contractors and designers alike have traditionally associated recycled construction materials with substandard quality in the finished design. In the UK, 32% of landfill waste comes from the construction and demolition of buildings and 13% of products delivered to construction sites are sent directly to a landfill without being used.

The National Association of Home Builders’ found that 75% of construction waste could be recycled. In China, the rapid rate of urbanisation may have fuelled a boost in construction, but it has also led to unprecedented levels of construction waste. Locals in Shenzhen blamed poor disposal practices and a lack of legal supervision for a recent landslide, and environmental campaigners are now arguing that the dumping of construction materials has led to an increase in water pollution. 

Despite this, the industry is waking up to the advantages of using recycled materials. Contractors, designers and clients are slowly beginning to realise the potential these recycled materials possess. This can only be a good thing, with recycled materials benefiting everyone. The environment benefits from reduced waste being sent to landfills, the designers and contractors benefit from reduced material and waste disposal costs, and these savings are then passed on to the client. Subsequently, firms can advertise their reputation for ecological awareness and lower construction costs to gain an increased advantage among competing firms.

By designing out waste now construction projects can meet industry standards, such as the Code for Sustainable Homes, but it can also attract new clients with an interest in environmental issues. Working with clients and contractors to design out waste can also lead to cost savings and marketing opportunities for both designers and client. Programs like the Halving Waste to Landfill initiative set up by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) have enabled firms to set waste reduction targets, identify opportunities for future developments by helping contractors identify areas where material wastage is common and measure potential improvement through quantified standards and targets.
make your firm more sustainable
In areas of China, rapid urbanisation has resulted in mountains of construction waste clogging sites

As the world around us changes, so to do the aims of each sector. With its physical impact on the environment and the financial significance to the international economy, the construction industry needs to stay at the forefront of change. By embracing sustainable techniques now, the industry can begin to integrate technology in a way that enhances the sector and improves the quality of life for everyone. Construction firms are switching on to a more environmentally responsible approach, but it’s a never ending process of evolution and adaptation. This is a fight the industry can not afford to back down on, much less lose.

Chromebook for the construction industry

Chromebooks for construction: 11 reasons your firm should try them

Construction, Feature, Google Apps, Technology | No Comments

Like all major international sectors, the construction industry must embrace change to survive. Engaging with new technology is essential to ensure design and construction practices are constantly operating at their peak; and yet, the industry has been slow to adapt to the wealth of technological innovations on offer.

With the digital revolution come new opportunities for the industry and individual companies to grow. The Chromebook is a lightweight laptop running a Chrome OS operating system. In particular, the Chromebook will appeal to those who spend the majority of their computing time online, because they have no internal hard drive.

This means that to save your work, you will need access to the internet or an external hard drive. Despite requiring an internet connection to complete several functions, Chromebooks are becoming an increasingly invaluable tool for businesses, particularly in the competitive construction industry. Here are just a few of the key features drawing industry professionals to the Chromebook.

1. Google Apps for Work

Google Apps for Work is fast becoming the go-to software for construction firms upgrading their outdated systems. It’s easy to see why, with the software’s key aims reflecting the current trend for remote collaboration and streamlined communication and a host of Google for Work Apps free with every Chromebook.

With Cloud storage, you can share, discuss and collaborate on documents in real time, with all changes saved automatically. Google Apps’ enables growth through real-time collaborations, but also enhances communication and provides simple but effective search capabilities for all work saved on the Cloud.

Despite claims to the contrary, if you’re still using a Microsoft system and don’t want to make the change, you can use an online version of Microsoft Office through your Chromebook. Not every feature of Office is available in the online version, but it does come complete with Word Online, Excel Online, and PowerPoint Online. Microsoft has even made these apps available in the Chrome Web Store, so those not ready to make the switch can enjoy access to both complimentary of the Chromebook.

Google Apps for the construction industry
2. Adobe Photoshop Online

One of the biggest obstacles when considering a Chromebook is the perceived lack of storage space. People bemoan that there is nowhere on the Chromebook to store their favourite applications, and in a way they’re right. This isn’t necessarily a hindrance, however. Whilst an internet connection is essential, storage space on the laptop is obsolete because all information can be stored on the Google Drive in the cloud.

Because Adobe’s servers, rather than the Chromebook, host the application, most of the processing comes through the cloud. This means not only can it operate faster than on a traditional laptop; it also won’t deplete your Chromebook battery as fast as when used on a traditional hardware.

With this app, the speed with which you create high quality original images just depends on your internet bandwidth and imagination. Because files are stored in the cloud on Google Drive, you can also access them from anywhere in the world. Sadly, for Chromebook users outside North America, they may still have some time to wait before the service becomes available

Chromebooks for the construction industry

3. Value for money

One of the Chromebooks selling points when first released was the price. Whilst other laptops on the market were selling at an average of $500 or more, the Chromebook was being marketed at less than half that. If buying in bulk for an office, you can save even more.

This frees up cash to spend on extra features for the company, like increased office bandwidth and faster servers, which in turn benefit the Chromebook using employees. Even if your company decides to invest in external hard drives for each Chromebook, the savings can be significant but can also still enable the workforce to go mobile when needed.

4. Battery life

Because its applications are based almost entirely in the Cloud, the Chromebook’s servers don’t have to dedicate RAM to running multiple programs at the same time. This gives the Chromebook an impressive battery life (up to 13 hours), which comes in handy when you’re on the go and don’t have time to search out plug sockets.

For those in construction, this allows you to travel between sites without having to close down your system. It’s not all good news, however. Because the Chromebook relies on an internet connection to fulfil most of its duties, using it on-site may be difficult and could require the use of mobile data from an external source.

5. Streamlined functionality

The Chromebook boasts several advantages over OS X and Windows, but one of the most enticing has to be how much faster and smoother it runs Chrome. Because the design specifically aims to run Chrome on Linux, the Chromebook doesn’t come with the usual driver issues and software glitches.

Many designers, particularly those who spend the majority of their time working online, find the Chromebook’s simple, streamlined system perfect for their needs. In the construction industry, this can be a problem for those based at the design end of the spectrum.

Whilst rumours still swirl around a Chromebook version of Autodesk Revit, employees will have to satisfy themselves with using the Chromebook as a communication and marketing tool.

Chromebook for the construction industry

6. Security

Because almost all information entered into a Chromebook is stored in the cloud, losing your Chromebook doesn’t necessarily mean compromising company information. Any file uploaded to the Google Drive can be password protected; ensuring nobody outside the company can gain access. Likewise, a company admin can disable your account if your Chromebook is lost or stolen, essentially rendering the Drive inaccessible to anyone without the relevant details.

Additionally, the Chrome OS comes with built-in virus and malware protection, ensuring your Chromebook stays protected at all times.

7. Work Offline

When the Chromebook was first introduced, it came with some substantial flaws. If you couldn’t get access to the internet, it quickly transformed from invaluable communication tool to oversized paperweight.

Thankfully, Google soon decided to start making some of the apps available offline, with some major third-party apps choosing to follow suit.

The move to enable app installation, thus making them available offline, has helped bolster sales of Chromebooks. People have come to realise that a lack of internet connection doesn’t mean a Chromebook is inoperative. For those in the construction industry, this enables a completely new level of mobility.

8. Sync

Because the Chromebook stores all information on the Drive, you can sync all your apps and passwords with Chrome browsers on other computers. This gives you access to all your files and data no matter where you are, and no matter what device you used previously. Even data created through a mobile device is accessible from the Chromebook, meaning you will never be without your data again.

This also means switching an entire workforce to the Chromebook is immensely simple, freeing firms up to focus on delivering world-class standards in construction.

Chromebook for the construction industry

9. Cloud Storage

When you purchase a Chromebook, you get 100GB of Google Drive storage free for two years. This is a huge amount of space, easily sufficient to meet the needs of most contractors and office workers. That’s comparable to the amount you could expect from a service like Dropbox or OneDrive, with a significant saving thrown in.

The cloud is also safer and more secure than saving to an internal hard drive, which can be lost, stolen or damaged. Because all data is stored on the cloud, it’s accessible from anywhere in the world. This, in turn, eliminates the need for pesky pen drives or external hard drives.

10. Updates

Chromebooks update themselves regularly without all the fuss of a regular update. There’s no need to sit and wait patiently for your device to update and restart, or to worry that your malware protection may be out of date. The Chromebook updates automatically whenever necessary, and doesn’t demand your attention whenever a minor update is available.

11. Mobility

Although the weight of a Chromebook varies from model to model, most are lightweight and can be taken almost anywhere. This feeds into the mobile properties of the system, which encourages sharing, discussing and collaborating on projects on the go. This limits the amount of downtime whilst allowing a greater scope in terms of who the client is and their geographic location.

Chromebooks for the construction industry

So the Chromebook definitely comes with some downsides, particularly the lack of functionality when an internet connection is unavailable. It’s also a solid investment for firms looking to make the leap into the digital. Lightweight, secure and deliberately streamlined to provide the optimum online user experience, Chromebooks can keep an entire firm connected for less. For the construction industry, a change is coming. All you have to decide is if it’s a change you and your firm are ready to make.

MIPIM 2016

Clemmie to launch at MIPIM 2016

Construction, Industry, MIPIM 2016, News | No Comments

Clemmie, in partnership with Google, is proud to announce it will be attending the world’s premier property expo, MIPIM 2016. Hosted by the world’s premier property market, the annual MIPIM exhibition brings together real estate professionals from every sector. The event provides an international platform for industry leaders from across the world to connect and share the latest innovations and discuss the industry’s biggest issues. Clemmie will announce its presence to leading industry figures at MIPIM, offering its brand of intelligent software solutions specifically designed for the construction industry.

Clemmie is an App that helps businesses engage with and understand clients on an intricate level, enabling firms to market their capabilities effectively and efficiently. Clemmie also functions as a customisable package of software solutions and qualified tender opportunities specifically designed to give firms first access to the best projects across the world. Developed in partnership with Google and global construction industry experts, Clemmie provides firms with the latest tools, infrastructure and market know-how to stay at the forefront of the international market.

Over the past 27 years, MIPIM has become the leading worldwide property event gathering, providing unrivalled access to the greatest number of international property leaders, development projects and real estate industry insights. The event’s internationally diverse exhibition floor and comprehensive programme of conferences and events gives a detailed insight into the latest global market trends whilst sharing the latest advances in the industry. The event will play host to the most influential players from every corner of the property market, offering unrivalled access to the greatest number of development projects and an exclusive networking platform.

Clemmie provides firms with the latest tools, infrastructure and market know-how to stay at the forefront of the international construction market.

The event includes a dedicated programme of conferences, case studies, pitching sessions at the Vitra lounge or private talks with famous architects and startups. MIPIM 2016 provides firms with the opportunity to promote projects, network with partners and find new clients, source capital and position their company as a serious contender in the global industry.

Clemmie will be launching an exclusive new product suite for the Construction & Engineering sector, at MIPIM 2016. To see what Google can do for your business, find the Clemmie stall in the MIPIM 2016 event programme and come along to find out more, or better yet, come join the Clemmie team for cocktails at the Clemmie villa!

MIPIM 2016 takes place 15-18 March 2016 in Cannes, France. To attend the Clemmie cocktail soiree, be sure to RSVP here.