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How can AI improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness in infrastructure projects?

With the Federal Government banking on major infrastructure projects to ensure Australia’s smooth economic transition from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time for the industry to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all the benefits it brings.

According to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), “An aggressive agenda to fund and build infrastructure projects needed to boost the liveability and productivity of major cities and regions will be essential to Australia’s recovery from the economic effects of COVID-19.”

Additionally, Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List for 2021 shows 44 new proposals of infrastructure projects across the country, and a $59 billion pipeline of works, set to provide a much-needed boost to our nation’s economy.

However, to be effective in economic benefit, the infrastructure boom must meet budget and timing deadlines.

Time and cost overruns are a notorious feature of large infrastructure developments around the world. Here in Australia, nine out of 10 infrastructure projects go over budget, with missed deadlines also a major issue. Despite this, the take-up of AI technology has not kept pace with the growing complexity and scale of major projects.

AI is the master of processing algorithms and using these to extract meaningful information from a significant amount of data. The collation and analysis of this data by a human workforce would be time-consuming and expensive, with no guarantee of a useful result for the organisation. With AI, an enormous amount of information can be processed quickly and a detailed report generated within a matter of minutes, helping the business to develop strategies to improve performance, build on existing client relationships, and target new customers.

For infrastructure development, AI can dynamically predict critical factors and find better ways to avoid problems and manage issues. AI delivers insights earlier, faster and more accurately than has ever been possible, so that project managers, owners and financiers can make the right decision at the right time, getting ahead of the competition.

Endeavour Programme’s Octant AI uses machine learning and advanced data analytics to change the way projects respond to emergent risks and opportunities. It uses powerful machine learning technology that finds patterns in massive volumes of project data, to identify problems earlier and more accurately than human experts. The technology then advises project leaders how to bring the project back on track.

One Queensland-based construction firm, which is using Octant AI, has reported it is now able to forecast project cost outcomes 250 per cent more accurately and about 35 per cent earlier than it was previously able to. For a sector plagued by budget blow-outs and lengthy delays, Octant AI eliminates the notion of ‘approximate completion dates’. In short – it tackles the root causes of project failure.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the way we have been doing things needs to change. With so much riding on the successful implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects in this country, the need to implement AI technology has never been clearer. Big risks or failures are just not an option.