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Marketing & advertising

The month in Marketing & Advertising: September 2016

Advertising, Industry, Marketing, News | No Comments

Virtual reality takes on new dimension

Oh, to work in the world of virtual reality! The medium has been through a lot lately. With a lukewarm reception at the Cannes Lions and just a few promising examples of the technology’s potential, investors could be forgiven for hedging their bets. But fear not, for a recent Nielsen survey of 8,000 consumers found that consumers might actually be ready for VR. Whether the world’s of marketing & advertising are ready, is another matter entirely.

According to a report released this month by Nielsen’s Media Lab, 24 percent of respondents said they are likely to use or purchase VR in the next year. The number of people who said they didn’t plan to try it fell even further when given a rudimentary explanation of its potential applications.

There was more good news for marketers interested in VR, too. Harry Brisson, Nielsen’s director of lab research noted that those interested in VR “are ‘triple-A’ consumers: Not only are they early adopters of new products and services, but they’re advocates for the brands that they use and love.” This is great news for companies already investing in VR, but it’s important to remember, when it comes to virtual reality, nothing is quite as it seems.

Marketing & advertising

Instagram doubles advertising base in 6 months

Instagram announced this month that it has increased its advertising base to over 500,000 businesses. The social network reached half a million advertisers just a few months after hitting 500 million active users, and the mobile photo-sharing growth doesn’t show any signs of abating. Speaking at a press briefing this month, Instagram’s head of brand development for EMEA Amy Cole said the top five advertising verticals on Instagram were now consumer packaged goods, eCommerce, retail, entertainment and technology.

In a bid to encourage more brands to engage with their audience, Instagram introduced ‘Business Tools’. The service allows companies to add a contact button to their page and provides more detailed data regarding the personality traits of their followers. The service has proven a hit, with 1.5 million businesses converting to a new profile on Business Tools.

The app’s ‘Stories’ feature, although derided as a Snapchat rip-off, has proven to be a big hit for businesses too. Cole explained the impact Stories has had on marketers. “We have seen brands make use of the fact that you can message people through stories and they go straight into your direct messaging. It gives brands that extra flexibility.”

Marketing & advertising

Youtube debuts new Call to Action TrueView feature 

This month saw Google introduce a new format for YouTube TrueView video ads. TrueView for Action allows for in-video ads to be tailored to a specific action. So rather than a generic ‘Learn more’ link appearing alongside the ad, brands can now choose their own phrase. Not only does this help banners achieve greater brand relevance, it allows advertisers to develop more specific ad campaigns.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of ads and commerce at Google, announced the new feature at the DMEXCO digital media conference in Germany this month. Ramaswamy said TrueView action ads will be tested throughout the year. With the reporting and user experience being fine-tuned, the aim is to make the new format available globally.

Google explained the option would be particularly useful for advertisers in “high consideration” industries, like those in financial services, automotive, or travel. Google will test this format for the rest of 2016, but we could see it rolled out by as early as next year.

Marketing & advertising

Yahoo confirms massive data breach

Yahoo found itself in hot water this month after confirming a massive data breach that affects hundreds of millions of users. The hack, which Yahoo confirmed this month, saw the birthdates, usernames, passwords and email backup details of half a billion users leaked. However, the tech company was quick to calm fears of a risk to people’s personal financial accounts with an official statement:

“The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected.”

The attack was first reported back in August when a hacker, going by the name ‘Peace’ claimed to be selling the private information of over 200 million Yahoo accounts. The details were allegedly put up for sale on a hacker’s marketplace called The Real Deal. At the time, Yahoo acknowledged they were aware of the claim, but stopped short of confirming or denying its authenticity. If you’re a Yahoo user, click here to check if your account has been hacked.

Marketing & advertising

Snapchat debuts Video-Enabled Sunglasses

As far as first hardware products go, Snapchat’s Spectacles could actually be a step in the right direction. As the tech startup looks to branch out beyond the world of app technology, there was a real danger of the company forgetting what made Snapchat so much fun – short & snappy user generated content. Thankfully, if the video-recording eyewear unveiled this month is anything to go by, user-created content is still an integral part of the formula.

Snap Inc (the tech company’s new corporate name) started calling themselves a camera company a few months back, and with the release of Spectacles, Snapchat is clearly planning to go way beyond the much-loved mobile app.

The Spectacle debut this month revealed that users push a button near the hinge of the glasses to record up to 10 seconds of first-person video. Each new button-tap records another video, allowing you to create several quick, first-person clips in a row, which can then be sent via the app to followers. The prospect for what users can do with an extra hand now free probably don’t bear thinking about, but it’s certainly opened up new markets for the image messaging pioneers.

Marketing & advertising

August Marketing & Advertising

The month in Marketing & Advertising: July 2016

Advertising, Industry, Marketing, News | No Comments

This month we take a look at the big stories from the crazy worlds of marketing and advertising.

Even the marketing for the Olympics is causing controversy

With the controversies hanging around the 2016 Rio Olympics, it can be easy to miss the new developments surrounding the tournament’s marketing campaigns. Under the original rule for athletes and their sponsors, no-one participating in the Games could allow their name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games. Now, for the first time ever in an Olympic tournament, that rule has been overturned. There’s just one caveat, the ad campaigns can’t overtly link to the Olympics. Non-Olympic sponsors like GoPro, Under Armour and Virgin, have been quick to take advantage of the marketing opportunities this provides, but it’s led to some fairly inventive attempts to skirt around the obvious link.
The athletes are also bound by the rules, even if it does mark a relaxation of the rules compared to past Games, where athletes could not publicly endorse their non-official sponsors during the weeks surrounding the tournament. During the 2012 London Olympics, athletes made their frustrations at the restrictive rules by Tweeting using the hashtag #WeDemandChange. The competitors may have got their wish, but they have to ensure they don’t explicitly relate the sponsors to the Games. This might sound like an overly arbitrary rule, but it probably won’t be the most controversial .

Coca-Cola slips down the global brand rankings

Despite consistently ranking as one of the most recognisable brands in the world, Coca-Cola no longer enjoys its ubiquitous status as the all-American company. That’s because July saw Coca-Cola drop out of Millward Brown’s ranking of the top global brands, a major measure of a company’s cultural presence and overall market value. The soft drinks giant’s fall from the top spot isn’t exactly unheralded, following its disappearance from Interbrand’s best global brands list in 2013. However, it does point to the importance of maintaining pace with changing technology, and shows just how much the internet has levelled the playing field for new companies. Of the top ten global brands, five specialised in computer software, and three weren’t trading as a public company before the turn of the last century. It’s not been a great month for Coca-Cola. Not long after being released, their ads for Sprite were branded as ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’ by people across the internet. Taking a look at the ads, it’s not hard to see why people would take offence, with taglines like “She’s seen more ceilings than Michelangelo,” “You’re not popular… you’re easy,” and “A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2.” If this is their attempt to bring the brand back into the spotlight, they may be best keeping a low-profile for a while.

VR impresses, albeit sporadically, at Cannes

Despite the world’s current preoccupation with virtual and augmented reality (thanks a lot, Pokemon Go), the new medium failed to live up to the hype at this year’s Cannes Lions. The world was waiting with baited breath to see where this exciting new technology will take us, so perhaps it was inevitable that the offerings at the annual advertising, marketing and communications event would disappoint. One of the most notable exceptions was Lockheed Martin’s “Bus Ride to Mars” project, which saw a group of schoolchildren board a bus in Manhattan only to be transported to the red planet’s surface through the power of virtual reality. The project was awarded 19 Lions, an even more impressive feat when you consider those awards spanned 11 categories and add up to more than any other single piece of work at this year’s festival. The top accolades, however, went to the New York Times. The publication’s VR experience “The Displaced” bagged the Entertainment Top prize with an immersive look at the journeys of refugees from around the world in a move that Entertainment Lions Jury President Jae Goodman said “catapulted the Gray Lady 100 years forward.”

Facebook Messenger passes one billion users

Continuing its indomitable rise to be the most pervasive brand on the planet, Facebook announced this month that its Messenger app now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users. The social media behemoth now owns three apps with more than one billion users. Joining the official Facebook app and Whatsapp (who Facebook bought in 2014), Facebook Messenger’s popularity further cements the company’s position as the leading social media brand. Google Maps and YouTube both also rank high in the app charts, but Facebook has invested wisely in new technologies to ensure its place at the top of the leaderboard. The introduction of chatbots designed to simulate human conversation, as well as constant updates to the apps games, has positioned Messenger in an integral role within Facebook. Talk of extending its digital assistant feature, currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, could see the app take on an even more intrinsic role in our daily lives but, until then, we’ll all have to make do with using it to shoot digital hoops and messaging strangers with unfortunate, albeit hilarious, names.

LinkedIn makes the move into user-videos

Following its acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn has tried to boost its interactivity and give key influencers the opportunity to post 30-second videos on selected topics. In a move that looks to tap into the Snapchat generation, the company hopes to give leading tastemakers from the Linkedin community the ability to deliver bite-sized lectures on relevant topics. Writing on the Linkedin blog, senior product manager Jonathan Sherman-Presser claimed: “you’ll get an intimate look at where [the influencers] work and hear their honest thoughts on topics central to the professional world.” The new video feature gives every Linkedin user the opportunity to hear top advice direct from industry leaders, but does not yet allow users to pitch questions they want answered themselves. Topics covered so far include the most important thing founders should avoid doing at a pitch meeting, how artificial intelligence will change the office dynamic and how colleges should measure their students’ success. The move may have come quite late in the day for the professional networking site, but if it can effectively tap into the big questions and ensure its topics are relevant, this could be the beginning of a new era for Linkedin and business.

Big Data in business

Why are some marketing professionals still ignoring big data?

Analytics, Ecommerce, Feature, Industry, Technology | No Comments

We’ve entered a new era in business. Digital marketing and ecommerce are rapidly becoming the new norm, with Digital commerce transactions predicted to climb to US$8 trillion by 2020. As the internet becomes the central platform for marketing, buying and selling products and services, the very concept of consumer insight is changing. With the growth of online sales comes a wealth of opportunities for businesses looking to understand their audience better. And that’s where big data comes in.

Big data is exactly what it sounds like (millions of bytes of information regarding human behaviour when online), but the name doesn’t come close to conveying its real value to the modern business. By studying large sets of data relating to how specific audiences interact with their content, businesses can pinpoint exactly what works, and what doesn’t for their brand. By quantifying audience engagement and providing insights into consumer behaviour previously only available through (often unreliable) consumer surveys, big data has revolutionised the marketing process. The business insights garnered through big data are huge, so why have companies been so slow to take advantage of these new opportunities?

Instinct over analysis is always a gamble

Despite the growth in big data, marketing professionals still rely too heavily on intuition and blanket distribution to get their message out there.  Whilst it’s vital a business doesn’t forget it’s USP, it’s also important to consider the metrics behind each figure before proceeding. Analytics tools track customer activity like bounce rate, the number of clicks and time spent on site, and generate reports based on the findings, removing a huge element of the guesswork from marketing. With Google Analytics, businesses can break down which aspects of their content works, as well as provide an insight into how to improve future output with ecommerce and conversion reporting. Businesses can find the right formula for their specific audience through studying a visitors demographics, interests, language, and location, as well as what devices and operating systems they use.

“Businesses can find the right formula for their specific audience”

Data distrust is natural, but rarely justified

Many companies distrust the information provided by big data, preferring instead to rely on intuition and business knowledge. These are the veteran marketers, dedicated to the kind of time-consuming audience research no longer applicable to the pervasive digital mass-market. They argue that big data might be able to tell you what people are doing, but it’s through intensive research that you find out why. Whereas the data can reveal a site’s click-through conversion rate is 6%, marketers need to use business acumen, API know-how, and common sense to understand why it isn’t higher. Whilst these skills are essential to anyone looking to grow their brand online, they just can’t take into account the changing attitudes of consumers to the same degree afforded by the addition of cold hard data. 

Improvisation is not the enemy

Campaigns have to be tailored to a specific audience. Taking an unbending approach to marketing never yields the best results, so it’s vital companies employ some business acumen when seeking to study their data. The issue for many marketing professionals today is the perceived rigidity of web analytics tools. But with web tools like Google Analytics, businesses can tailor their metrics to only show the data relevant to them. Analytics is a fantastic marketing tool, but it’s down to the marketers themselves to decide to what extent the data should influence the overall business strategy. Every business needs its own unique style. Basing every decision on data alone is a surefire way to leave a site cold, clinical and unloved, but to ignore it completely is to doom it to a life of internet obscurity.

“It’s down to the marketers themselves to decide to what extent the data should influence the overall business strategy”

Always check your process

Although big data has proven itself as an indispensable marketing tool, new opportunities will always throw up new potential pitfalls, and it’s important to understand a tool’s shortcomings in order to avoid them. The problems with big data arise when businesses fail to interpret the numbers properly or begin to view their clients in terms of numbers, rather than as people. Writing in Data-Informed magazine, CEO of software company YouEye Malcolm Stewart argues “The downside of this data obsession is that companies end up optimizing for where people click, instead of their actual experience.”

Stay on top of your data

It’s also natural to get overwhelmed with so much quantitative data available, but in order to effectively implement strategies based on site analytics, a business must first understand what they are seeing. This involves combining the human, qualitative approach to modern business and a firm grasp of digital design with clearly considered and accurately interpreted data. It’s a tricky task, but for those willing to put in the time to find the right formula, the rewards can be colossal.

Placing all your faith in the numbers will rarely let you down, but businesses would do well to remember it’s not the silver bullet to all their marketing woes; they still need to interpret the data correctly and implement strategies effectively. Business is about understanding your client, and the big data being pulled in across the web every day can be your ticket to real insights, but don’t let the figures hold you back from making original marketing decisions. There are some things even analytics can’t teach, and it’s in those moments that good old fashioned business instinct is your greatest weapon. Likewise, charging in with gut feeling alone will only see a business so far. The growth of ecommerce and digital transactions has changed business forever, but it’s only through integrating the fundamentals of yesterday with the tools of today that we can hope to ensure a fertile business environment tomorrow.

challenges facing the Global construction industry

5 of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry of tomorrow

Construction, Feature, Industry, Technology | No Comments

It’s the dawn of a new era in the construction industry. Despite the significant setbacks of the past few years, the industry has reported strong continual growth in almost every market. During the global recession at the turn of the decade, construction was one of the worst hit sectors in the Western world. From the economic downturn emerged a new, streamlined construction industry, more socially, environmentally and financially aware than ever. Construction may be well on the path to recovery, but the industry will always face its share of adversity, particularly as markets shift, technology develops and priorities change. Here are six of the biggest challenges facing the global construction industry in the coming years.

The economy

Following the recession, the market’s newly established buoyancy will entail rising costs and a demand for new investment. Even with an increase in initiatives for new talent and rising employment rates, construction in Western countries still lags behind most other sectors. Contractors have highlighted the effect of the recession on clients; now decidedly more cost savvy and typically prone to search out multiple estimates instead of settling. This is great for the client and encourages competition, but also forces firms to drive down their costs in order to remain competitive. The economic uncertainty of the past year has also fed fears of another dip in the market, which could undo much of the work the industry has done to claw its way back to profitability.
The biggest challenges facing the global construction industry

Sustainability

The industry’s biggest issues are often a reflection of the big talking points in society. In construction, the effect of the built environment on the surrounding natural habitat, and a buildings long-term relevance are finally taking centre stage. But sustainability is about more than just the impact urban developments have on the natural world. It also requires ensuring developments continue to function well into the future, allowing the next generation, and even generations after, to enjoy the structures we create today. With cities like Dubai vying for the title of the most sustainable green economy in the world by 2021, sustainability is fast becoming big business.
Design technologies like BIM are helping further integrate efficiency-planning into the construction process whilst enabling developers to showcase a design’s ecological properties before any foundations are even laid. Government initiatives designed to give prominence to sustainable developments are also encouraging developers and industry experts to incorporate sustainable elements into the design and construction process, but the coming years will see these priorities solidify and become an integral part every new development.
The biggest challnges facing the global construction industry

Efficient integration of technology

As any industry develops, new technologies will arise designed to streamline processes and increase productivity. In the construction and architecture sectors, these technologies can cater to anything from internal company processes to the design stage to on-site construction. The issue arises when new technologies clash with traditional methods and industry veterans are reticent to embrace the potential dividends these technologies have to offer. By slowly and intelligently integrating new technological features into daily practices, the transition between traditional and new technology can be seamless, causing minimum disruption to projects.
Each successive wave of technology brings with it an inevitable level of resistance from industry veterans unwilling, or unsure how, to adapt. People are naturally averse to change until they can appreciate its practical application saves time and effort. It’s the management’s responsibility to enable employees to see the benefits in switching to a new technology. But the need for efficient integration of technology affects more than just the studios making the transition. Those firms unable to evolve with the technology will inevitably be left behind, potentially causing valuable skills and knowledge to be lost to the entire industry forever.
The biggest challenges facing the global construction industry

Depletion of skills & labour

Despite the importance of adapting to the new opportunities presented by technological advances, it’s essential we don’t forget the human skills that are still so vital to the industry. New technologies come with their own unique set of challenges as well as advantages, and when technology fails, human ingenuity and hard graft can be the only thing standing between a completed project and significant delays. The construction industry has embraced new technology with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but losing the human crafts that preceded these technologies would be a major loss to the industry. Even as the means by which buildings are designed, mapped and constructed develop, the beating heart of the industry has remained with the workforce. Companies, clients and the industry as a whole would do well to remember this.
Construction contractors have regularly cited finding skilled labourers as one of the most significant challenges facing the construction industry today. Despite significant growth, the industry has access to almost 20% fewer workers than in pre-recession 2008. Partly a result of the severe layoffs witnessed during the recession, this statistic also points to the growing number of young talent seeking employment in less labour-intensive, and more stable, markets.
The biggest challneges facing the global construction industry

Investing in new talent

Undoubtedly one of the biggest issues facing the industry in the coming years is the need to encourage and invest in new talent. In the UK, government ministers have taken to calling on major firms to encourage more young people to consider going into construction. According to a report released late last year by the Policy Exchange, the industry will require 20% more staff within the next five years to meet the country’s construction needs. Whilst the rapid rate of urbanisation in developing countries, particularly in Africa, has given a huge boost to the industry, the challenge of attracting skilled new workers has been felt across the world. It’s not just traditional roles that require an injection of fresh labour. As new technology spurs on the creation of new roles within the industry, it’s vital initiatives are put in place to ensure there is a workforce to fill these new roles. Studies have found that new construction and design technologies can spark an initial boost in personnel, particularly when they’re the subject of significant media attention. But major firms and national governments must continue to encourage the development and distribution of new skills, ensuring a consistently dynamic, efficient and, above all, effective workforce.
2 for designers

The construction industry continues to recover from the global financial crisis of the past decade, but it still faces an uphill battle against a myriad of social, political, environmental and economic challenges. It’s only by embracing change now and preparing to tackle the obstacles on the horizon that construction can hope to keep pace with our rapidly changing world.

Staff-meeting-w-tablet

5 ways web analytics can improve your business output

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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

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.

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, Clemmie.xyz 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.

The biggest challneges facing the global construction industry

5 technologies changing construction forever

Construction, Feature, Google Apps, Industry, Technology | No Comments

The construction industry is constantly changing. As new technologies replace redundant methods of construction, practices adjust and our perception of the world evolves. The industry’s post-industrial evolution has largely been a fluid progression from one logical step to another. Thanks to the sharing power bestowed by the internet, however, the past twenty years has seen a host of standout technologies changing construction, and the way we construct our world, forever.

Google Apps

As technology develops and international boundaries blur, designers have been quick to take advantage of the newfound possibilities in collaboration. The administrative side has been slower to adapt, to the detriment of the entire industry. Google Apps offers construction firms the opportunity to revolutionise not only the means by which they communicate internally but also the way in which the entire industry operates.

The nature of the software allows for collaboration a scale unthinkable just a few years ago. Because company information is shared on the Google Drive, the process of access, sharing, and editing is streamlined, while the risk of losing information is reduced to a near impossibility. With the Google Cloud storing all information, access to vital data, renders and details are simplified, while the hardware on which it is accessed becomes less relevant. It also makes the transfer of large image files easier, safer and less time-consuming.

With the Google Cloud storing all information, access to vital data, renders and details are simplified, while the hardware on which it is accessed becomes less relevant. It also makes the transfer of large image files easier, safer and less time-consuming.

With Google Apps, file transfers and shared calendars streamline the sharing of information whilst keeping everyone updated in real time. For construction projects, alterations to a design,  materials or staff can be shared and explained via video with Google Hangouts. The result is multiple users to contribute and come to an appropriate solution promptly.
Technologies changing construction
Google Apps is already revolutionising the way the construction industry operates

BIM

Without a doubt, one of the most significant innovations in the construction industry in the past twenty years, BIM, or Building Information Modeling, has changed building design and the construction process forever. BIM software allows designers to generate and manipulate a digital representation of a building, meaning a project can be created and studied before a single brick is laid.

BIM gives designers the opportunity to study the effect of external factors on a building, allowing them to manipulate the design to achieve optimum levels of efficiency. By creating digital models, construction firms now have a fully realised and intricately detailed design from which to work. The technology behind BIM also means designers can prepare buildings to be adapted as technology evolves, ensuring projects stay relevant for as long as possible.

Some leading industry figures have questioned the integrity of information used in BIM, as well as the willingness of some clients to invest. But these are kinks in a relatively new design technology which will inevitably be ironed out as it develops. Today BIM is used on a range of software platforms for a variety of projects across the world. As a constantly developing technology, the potential to factor new considerations into the design process ensures it will continue to play an invaluable role in the future of construction.
Technologies changing construction
A building diagram constructed through BIM software

3D printing

Despite a recent backlash against 3D printing, the technology still holds huge potential for the construction industry, and for society as a whole. 3D printing can be applied to a whole range of construction materials, including sustainable cladding, concrete foundations, insulation and even entire buildings. Projects like the WASProject in Italy have even utilised the technology to create temporary shelters for victims of natural disasters using water, clay and sand.

Luke Henderson, Director of Print 3D in China, a 3D printing start-up based in Shenzhen, explains the shift from traditional materials; “The increase in availability of this technology has allowed smaller companies to try out new ideas without worrying too much about cost,” adding “poorer countries can bootstrap the process of creating architectural models by using consumer grade FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) 3D printers.

3D printing comes with a host of other advantages. By handing the actual process of construction to a printer, there is no longer room for human error. In turn, complex geometrical designs are now no longer the sole preserve of the wealthy. As Hod Lipson explained in ‘Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing, in printing: “Complexity costs the same as simplicity.”

Technologies changing construction
A 3D printer in action/ photo credit: 3D Printer at the Fab Lab via photopin (license)

Prefabricated building materials

Although designers are still sceptical about the true potential of prefabricated design, the reality is this technology has been a major element of construction, existing in some form since the 19th century. The past twenty years, however, have seen the technology evolve to a previously unimaginable scale.

Prefabricated designs have grown in popularity largely because of the proliferation of new technology, allowing designers to create ingenious interlocking designs that can be assembled relatively easily on-site. The approach saves not only time but money, manpower, and natural resources, making buildings safer and more sustainable in the process. Because around 90% of all construction takes place in the factory, the construction requires less time and uses less concrete and water.

The Broad Group construction firm in China utilised the prefabrication method to achieve some of the fastest skyscraper construction times in history. The group first made its name in construction with a six-story building built in just one day at the Shanghai Expo in 2010. The firm went on to construct a 15 story Ark Hotel in just six days before building a 30 story hotel in Hunan Province in just over two weeks.

Each of these projects was filmed and released as time-lapse videos, showing the entire construction process in the space of a few minutes. The end result is not only an incredible piece of meticulous coordination but an indicator of the potential timeframe for the construction of future large-scale projects.Technologies changing construction
A prefabricated facade post assembly/ photo credit: building via photopin (license)

Robotic construction

Whilst robots have been used in constructing materials for well over half a century now, it’s only in the past ten years we have seen the real potential of On-Site Construction Robots (OSCR). When combined with 3D printing technology OSCR’s can massively reduce construction times, cutting costs and enabling the construction of more complex designs. As a result, architects, designers, and construction personnel can begin to explore new aesthetic approaches.

With OSCR’s also capable of reducing the amount of manpower required, some have been reticent to acknowledge the full potential of robots in construction, partly out of fear of eroding the element of human skill. But projects like the proposed Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) in Shenzhen, by Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, could prove robots and humans both have their place in the construction process.

In an interview with Dezeen magazine, Coop Himmelb(l)au founder Wolf D Prix argued engaging with these processes was essential to enable the trade to progress, stating: “If you combine 3D printing and assembling by robots, then the building industry has more chances than ever,” adding “The combination of robotic construction and 3D printing is the future of the building industry. It gives the architect more freedom to invent. The ideas that right now are killed, by the argument that it costs too much or it takes too long, will be not killed anymore.”

Prix has identified what each of these innovations are about. Each technology was born of a need to allow ideas to flourish. Just as the needs of the client evolves over time, so too must the technology to meet these needs. By encouraging and engaging with the latest innovations, designers and engineers can continue to build a brighter, more secure future; both for the construction industry and the world they create.

Google Apps for the global construction industry

How Google is revolutionising the global construction industry

Architecture, Construction, Industry, Technology | No Comments

The global construction industry is in a perpetual state of change. As the global market shifts and traditional practices change, firms too slow to adapt will inevitably be left behind. As technology develops, the industry is taking steps to improve its fragmented structure, inconsistent construction practices, and its lingering dependence on outdated paper-based communication processes. Historically, firms have been slow to make the change. That’s why it’s vital the modern construction firm stays up-to-date with the newest and most effective software and design tools. Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps people connect and work efficiently anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The full potential of Google Apps for the global construction industry is still being explored, but the key aims of the system are:

  • To enable growth through real-time collaborations.
  • To streamline communication through the use of a single document shared between relevant parties.
  • To enhance communication and enable firms to collaborate and communicate from multiple locations.
  • To provide search capabilities for previous email correspondence.

Google Apps offers a range of advantages over the traditional software suite, allowing construction firms to focus on delivering exceptional projects whilst enabling them to keep pace in one of the most competitive sectors on earth.

Mobility

Mobility is a vital attribute in any industry that requires successfully maintaining contact with clients and colleagues. This is particularly true in construction where people have to be onsite but want to continue interacting with people in the office. With the video function of Google Hangouts, you can raise construction issues and show video evidence in real time. This also means visualisations can be transferred quickly and efficiently, meaning issues can be resolved at the time they arise. Construction work can also entail significant travel time between site and office, or overseas. Google Hangouts and the collaborative capabilities of the other Google Apps makes communication and collaboration from anywhere in the world easier and more efficient.

Google Apps for the global construction industry

Collaboration

Construction often requires team leaders and foremen to complete documents in the field. With traditional software, this means carrying excessive amounts of paperwork to the site to keep track of new developments. Google Apps stores all of this information on the Cloud, making it easily accessible to colleagues and relevant authorities. It also makes the transfer of large image files (a daily occurrence in the global construction industry) easier, safer and less time-consuming. Colleagues can place large files on the Drive, meaning there is only one copy and only the appropriate people have access. Because multiple users can edit documents at the same time, ideas can be shared, discussed and decided upon there and then. In this way, Google Apps ensures every stage of the design process is truly collaborative, from design to bid management, all on one integrated platform.

Always up-to-date

Because all files are shared via the Drive, any alterations, edits or additions to a file will happen in real time. The Drive also allows you to receive notifications whenever someone makes an edit. This allows you to keep up to date with all the latest news, opportunities and designs, no matter where you are in the world. If an alteration needs to be made to a floor-plan during the construction process, using Google Apps in conjunction with your design software means everyone with access to the design will see the update in real-time; preventing confusion, mistakes or discrepancies further down the line.
Google Apps for the global construction industry

Multi-device functionality

Google Apps works across a range of devices and browsers, allowing you to keep in contact with colleagues and clients even if your own device is down. Because Google Apps can function on mobile devices, tablets, laptops and PC’s, you can keep your projects on track even if you’re travelling light or don’t have access to traditional computing devices. This means even if your design team uses Apple software and your operations team use Windows-based software, both can access, edit and share the same documents through Google Apps.

Cost-saving in the global construction industry

Even with all the innovations Google Apps provides for the construction industry, Google Apps for business can still save, on average, 50% of IT costs compared to firms using Microsoft 365. Add this to the time and effort saved by using Google Apps in comparison to traditional proprietary software and the savings are even greater. Firms can make further savings by eliminating the need for call-outs for hardware engineering issues, with all data now stored in the Cloud and available 24-7. Google Apps is such an effective cost-saver, it can free up your IT team to focus on hardware issues and on developing your company’s technological capabilities further.Google Apps for the global construction industry

Unlimited Cloud storage

The very nature of the global construction industry means firms regularly share documents, tenders, images, renders and other communications. All of this sharing inevitably eats into a company’s internal storage system, forcing staff to prioritise information and delete potentially valuable communications. Google Apps comes with unlimited Cloud storage, freeing companies up to focus on finding new opportunities, maintaining regular client communication and ensuring every project is completed on time and on-budget. Because Gmail allows you to navigate all your documents and emails with intelligent filters, information can be found with minimum time and effort, further streamlining internal and external processes.

Security in the global construction industry

Security is a major issue for any firm. It’s vital every firm can be confident that all data and communications are protected. Features like the sync & sharing controls alert workers when they try to share a file with someone outside the registered company database, ensuring data can’t be leaked outside the company accidently. Likewise, Google’s encryption feature ensures all work is regularly backed up and encrypted, even whilst travelling.
With app and domain whitelisting, all communications, domains, emails and IP addresses associated with the company are visible and always allowed to the appropriate people. Because each email is registered to a range of devices, any suspicious activity (for instance signing in from a new device) will result in a company admin acquiring a suspicious login notification, further strengthening the systems security. In addition to these features, Google Apps also allows network administrators to delete data from lost or stolen devices, protecting data from falling into the wrong hands. Add in Google’s world-class security, dedicated to protecting all data on the cloud, and you have one of the most secure networks in the world.
Google Apps for the global construction industry

Increased accountability and verifiable input

An often neglected but infinitely useful feature of the Google Apps, the sign-in system means all data input can be traced back to the individual user. In turn, this allows management to receive performance reports which can be immediately audited, as well as providing an extra level of accountability to tasks. The software logs what time people open files, what they’ve done and who was online at the time. It also keeps a record of all work previously kept on the file. This has the added benefit of allowing staff to recover previous work in the ‘Edit History’ section if necessary. Google Apps also gives IT managers increased control over the system, streamlining company operations and consolidating responsibility to a specific authority.

Google Apps isn’t just a viable alternative to traditional software suites like Microsoft, it’s the next logical step for the global construction industry as a whole. It’s only by adapting and keeping pace with the latest advances in technology that firms can hope to stay afloat in an ever evolving market.

Construction projects in Africa

What’s driving the growth in the construction industry in Africa?

Africa, Construction, Developing Nations, Feature, Industry | No Comments

The global construction market is forecast to grow by over 70% to $15 trillion worldwide by 2025. The industry is set to see a growth of 4.3% pa until 2025, concentrated primarily in the world’s emerging economies. Africa is one of the world’s fastest growing economic regions, with several countries making real, albeit tentative, steps into the global market. But this new found economic growth still faces a range of hurdles, not least a lack of real-world infrastructure and affordable housing. As the global economy enters its next act, Africa’s role on the world stage, and indeed the construction industry in Africa, is still largely unwritten. Each country’s prominence in the international arena depends on a number of factors. How they react to the multiple challenges of housing a growing urban population in liveable, sustainable cities and encouraging greater investment through dialogues with other nations will define how well the African countries of tomorrow fare. 

Perhaps one of the only certainties in Africa’s new chapter is that the construction industry will play a decisive role. It’s still not clear, however, if this role will involve helping shape a brighter future for the continent or inhibiting the potential for growth through labour exploitation and sub-par design practices. The construction industry in Africa is a major driver for social change, accounting for a sizeable proportion of most countries’ Gross Domestic and Gross National Product. But what exactly is driving this growth, and how can the construction industry help cities keep pace with the rapid urbanisation sweeping the African continent?

Government initiatives and regional investment

Domestic investment is central to the growth of construction in Africa’s cities, particularly in new civic and government projects. By supporting the housing market through local initiatives and ensuring funding is injected into key infrastructure projects, cities like Mombasa in Kenya and Tanzania’s former capital Dar es Salaam are flourishing. As the city with the fastest growing population in Africa, Dar es Salaam offers an invaluable insight into how best to encourage rapid urban and economic growth.

Urbanisation led to a growth in the city’s population, but city planners recognised the importance of investment in further projects. The resulting urban expansion has provided a solid economic base from which to develop the city further, as well as drawing in more investment.

Large-scale projects like the recently constructed Mtwara Dar es Salaam Pipeline and the currently under construction Kigamboni Bridge serve a dual role. They provide the city with much-needed infrastructure. This, in turn, enables it to cope with the influx of new workers while providing construction jobs during the development and subsequent employment through operating and maintaining the projects upon completion.
The construction industry in Africa
Government initiatives have helped kick-start ailing economies and encourage foreign investment

Engaging with academic centres

In an ICSID study, one of the key hurdles faced by several African countries was the reluctance of academic centres to maintain pace with new advances in technology and design. Whilst governments are identifying the need for innovative home-grown design talent, academic centres have been slow to adapt. By investing money in educational institutions, construction companies can highlight just how beneficial original thinking and in-depth industry knowledge can be.

Although already taking place in education centres across Africa, managers need to do more to liberate organisational structures and encourage a more creative approach to learning. This translates into a platform that enables organisations to participate in value-creating networks whilst redefining the traditional boundaries in the new economy.

By investing money in educational institutions, the construction industry in the developing world can highlight just how beneficial original thinking and in-depth industry knowledge can be. Although already taking place in education centres across Africa, managers need to do more to liberate organisational structures and encourage a more creative approach to learning. This translates into a platform that enables organisations to participate in value-creating networks whilst redefining the traditional boundaries in the new economy.

Through the development of creative solutions, Africa’s business leaders are enabling a new generation of ongoing dialogue across the industry, creating new knowledge bases and reinforcing innovative new approaches.

Investment in intelligent construction and digital design

The widespread availability of the internet and innovative design software has created a new generation of opportunities, with less cultural and physical boundaries than ever before. With innovation the driving force behind economic change, it’s essential developing countries engage with new advances in design software and embrace technological evolution.

In Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire, computer aided design is aiding the development of flood-proof housing. Coupled with augmented reality, designers can subject designs to all-weather tests before laying a single foundation.

The Building Information Modelling Industry is fast becoming an invaluable asset. With it, designers have the opportunity to produce high-quality developments on a mass scale, streamlining the construction process in turn. By working with architects, planners and designers, the construction industry can help usher in a new age of safe and affordable housing.The construction industry in Africa
A BIM Diagram assessing structural aspects of a building

Greater natural exports demand

The African economy has been steadily improving, thanks in large part to soaring prices for metals and minerals. With oil prices rising from less than $20 a barrel prior to the millennium to more than $140 in 2010, countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Angola enjoyed greater economic liberty for much of the early 21st century than in any decade previously.

However, from June 2014 to January 2015, oil prices fell by nearly 50 percent, and countries heavily dependent on exporting the resource suffered as a result. In Nigeria, this devaluation has led to strains in the balance of payments, slashing revenues and, without structural reforms, limiting the country’s growth to well below 5% for the coming years.

Low oil prices haven’t been bad news for every African nation, however. Kenya has benefited from the dip, narrowing the country’s trade deficit in late 2014 and early 2015. A promising sign for the East African nation, Kenya’s growth looks set to continue largely because this current prosperity is being driven by rising productivity rather than a temporary commodity boom.

Emerging markets require large investments to build a modern economy’s infrastructure. Exports are the primary means to earn the hard currency for imported capital goods, which amount to roughly half of all investment in Africa. That’s not to say that African countries must follow an Asian model of export-led growth and trade surpluses, but it is vital they continue to encourage exports to finance the investments required to diversify.
The construction industry in Africa
African nations dependent on exporting oil have suffered following the global decline in oil prices

Diversifying the economy

If the oil crash of last year taught African economies anything, it’s that diversification is the only means to guarantee sustained high economic growth. Some have been quicker to adapt than others. As countries like Kenya and Uganda transition towards a more urban landscape, previously neglected sectors have been invigorated, injecting cash into the cities whilst draining income from rural areas. In turn, this creates more jobs in the cities, raises average incomes and further increases domestic demand. Africa represents an opportunity not witnessed before in the construction industry, but it is one that must be approached with cautious optimism. Whilst economists predict Africa’s current financial ascension will go largely from strength to strength, the current infrastructure suggests it will take several years yet before some sectors catch up to the demand of others.
Several countries have also begun to build their internal service sectors, a move that will further encourage sustainable sources of future employment. The diversified economies can also expand manufacturing, particularly in food processing and construction materials, for local and regional markets. This move has increased exports and reduced the demand for imports, easing current-account deficits.

Working towards a low-carbon construction industry

Often dismissed as an issue for the more established economies of the west and far east, sustainability is nevertheless taking a key role in the construction process for many African countries. By incorporating high standards of sustainability into new designs now, African cities can look forward to a brighter future. This is particularly important in rapidly growing cities, where congestion (resulting from the use of roads designed for a much smaller population) is driving down the quality of air and increasing the health risk for citizens. Greater clarity, better education and the promotion of sustainable and low-carbon construction opportunities is an integral element of giving businesses the confidence to invest in the potential of these new markets.The construction industry in Africa
Construction firms in the West are already looking at ways to reduce carbon footprint of projects

Identifying future opportunities

Thanks to the proliferation of the internet and the subsequent increased global awareness, developing nations now have a better understanding of the areas in which future opportunities in key public and private sector markets will become available. The resulting initiatives, such as the Kenya Vision 2030 development programme, are generating jobs, foreign investment and a strong tourism base to ensure sustainable business for years to come. With the help of Chinese investors, The Kenyan government has already invested in a number of large-scale transport projects, including the Mombasa-Kigali Railway Project, which will cover almost 3,000 kilometres and connect three East African states. The improvements to the country’s infrastructure are already boosting economic growth, but the biggest project to come out of the Kenya Vision initiative, Kenzo Techno City is perhaps the best example of the potential of targeted investments. Situated 40 miles from Nairobi, the $14.5 billion ‘smart-city’ is expected to generate up to 200,000 jobs by the time its final phase is completed in 2030.

Anticipating a new era of urbanisation

The global population is calculated to reach 9 billion people by 2050 (a global increase of 1.8 billion). The majority of that population growth is forecast to be in urban environments, with the population in Africa anticipated to double over the next 40 years. These major demographic shifts present substantial infrastructure challenges.
A century ago, around 15% of people lived in urban areas, compared to over half the global population today. With this figure expected to increase to 70% by 2050, the onus is on the construction industry to work alongside city planners, architects and city leaders to meet the demand for intelligently designed, rapidly constructed urban development. Not every African country has effectively responded to the rapidly growing urban population. In Lagos, Nigeria, there are fears that the government’s zeal for dismantling shanty towns is outstripping the country’s construction capabilities. Even with Eko Atlantic, Nigeria’s answer to Hong Kong, taking shape off the coast of Lagos, there are doubts that enough is being done to cater to the country’s varied income brackets. The construction industry can help change this dynamic, but first city planners must recognise the detrimental impact this approach is having on the economy and the most vulnerable members of society.
The construction industry in Africa
Eko Atlantic, the new ‘luxury’ city being built off the coast of Lagos

Diversification of the portfolio

No company can avoid all the risks associated with infrastructure in Africa. Successful companies, therefore, maintain a wide portfolio of projects. By diversifying to cover multiple countries, construction firms have established relatively consistent practice standards on an international level whilst taking advantage of the numerous opportunities becoming available across the African continent. For firms using a multi-sector approach, opportunities may be limited to just one country, but, depending on the country, can be no less rewarding. The slew of transportation, commercial and residential opportunities in East Africa are the result of increased investment in the public sector, which in turn expedites the transition of the population from rural to urban areas.
The construction industry in Africa
As economies diversify, more opportunities become available across sectors encouraging a multi-disciplined workforce

Initiatives and growth in international tourism

Despite international security levels being tightened, developing countries are increasingly becoming a viable option for tourists looking to holiday off the beaten track. And where tourism goes, infrastructure follows. As a result, cities like Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania are seeing a remarkable growth in infrastructure. The construction industry has been slow to respond, but as the fastest growing city in Africa (by population), Dar es Salaam represents an opportunity for both the international construction industry to establish a strong foothold in East Africa and the local economy to expand at a sustainable pace.

The construction industry in AfricaTourism is driving the construction of new hotels, resorts and amenities across Africa

A new path for Africa

As the continent’s infrastructure develops, Africa is laying the foundations for a new and brighter future. With international trade and the urban population also increasing in almost every African country, it’s essential new public developments are implemented with one eye on the future. Construction plays a vital role in shaping a country’s skyline as well as in enabling the most innovative and intelligent designs to form part of the country’s character. The choice of projects now will affect not only the city’s appearance but its rate of employment, access to basic amenities and the general public Africa is on a new, promising road to greater economic autonomy, but the continent still has a considerable way to go. It’s the job of the construction industry, among other sectors, to make this road as easy to navigate as possible.

Header image courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim under GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2