The Future of Construction


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the construction industry, with many projects delayed due to manpower constraints and disruptions to the supply chain. As the country gradually heads towards recovery, technology plays a vital role in helping companies quickly regain operational efficiency and attain operational agility in a post-pandemic economy.

The proliferation of 5G networks and devices enables a wide range of applications that companies can leverage to enhance site safety and security and improve operational and resource efficiency. These applications include real-time video analytics, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), autonomous surveillance robots, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Enabling a safer and more secured worksite


Safety is paramount in construction sites. Requiring strict compliance to workplace safety regulations, only authorised personnel are permitted to enter the site, and need to be properly attired with the appropriate safety gear.

The use of CCTV with video analytics can aid in monitoring of personnel’s adherence to site protocols. This helps free up the manhours needed for manual monitoring, enabling a shift in focus to other pressing tasks.

Moreover, with 5G and its low-latency data processing and analytic capabilities, the identification and alerting of threats and breaches are highly accurate and real-time, allowing for quicker response. Insights gathered are then useful and effective in enhancing safety and security policies.

5G-enabled CCTV and video analytics can also be used with robots and drones for building inspection and site surveillance, such as spotting potential cracks or health hazards like ponding which may lead to dengue mosquito breeding. As drones and robots are autonomous and untethered, they can be deployed to areas deemed hazardous or inaccessible, without risking the safety of employees.

Push-to-talk communication devices are commonly used in construction sites, as it provides ease of quick communication with groups of people in multiple locations. However, generic walkie talkies only provide limited coverage and a small number of channels. In some instances, the commercial mobile network can be overwhelmed by the sudden surge of users, which would impact critical communications. Due to the high utilisation of the same network, SOS alerts may not reach all devices.

Leveraging network slicing capabilities of 5G, critical communication is provided with a dedicated network slice to ensure that it will always be prioritised and available even when the public network is congested, much like a bus lane during peak traffic periods. This is imperative especially in crises.

StarHub SmartPTT, besides being 5G-capable, also offers a suite of features such as Push-to-Video, which allows live videos to be streamed with just a push of a button. This feature is particularly useful in time-sensitive situations, as using Push-to-Video rather than communicating through words or text messaging saves time and is unambiguous. It therefore enables quicker mobilisation of teams as well as quicker response during emergencies, such as injured personnel or a security breach.

Reducing uncertainties


During excavation works, the risk of damaging underlying structures or even the construction machinery used in the digging is very high, which would warrant expensive repairs or even physical rebuilds that would set project timelines back considerably. Circumstances could be fatal should there be disturbance of pipes or live cables that could lead to emission of hazardous gases, electrocution, or even explosions.

To mitigate these risks, AR/VR technology, such as Ground Penetrating Radars, can be used to detect underground obstructions and irregularities. This allows contractors to map out underground areas accurately, review them with more precision and make necessary corrections before the excavation and construction phases. Moreover, with the high bandwidth and low latency capabilities of 5G, the huge structural imaging file can be downloaded and uploaded within seconds for multiple users to access at any time, and from anywhere.

Likewise, revisions to the design or blueprint during construction due to inaccuracies could incur hefty costs and timeline delays associated with reworks. To prevent this, technologies such as the 3D Overlay with Building Information Modelling, or BIM, powered by 5G, provides a virtual life-size replica of the building blueprint to give contractors full visualisation of detailed components, such as electrical piping, enabling them to identify potential clashes and problems.

At the same time, lag-free remote collaboration can be conducted with multiple offsite partners and experts. This way, onsite issues can be rectified immediately, eliminating the need for all personnel involved to be physically present onsite at the same time, reducing downtime and saving related travel costs.

Optimising resources


Construction projects often take years to complete; and with an extensive volume of resources used, cost control could be complex and pose a major challenge. With the powerful capabilities of 5G, such as its blazing fast speeds, high bandwidth, and high connection density of devices, the deployment of IoT technology can significantly aid construction companies on three fronts.

Firstly, IoT sensors can be used to track assets and utilisation of resources. Data is captured from multiple sensors on equipment and machinery such as temperature and energy consumption of cranes. Through real-time advanced analytics, this enables predictive maintenance, avoiding equipment overuse that could lead to breakdowns. Not only does this minimise downtime and reduce the need to purchase replacements, but it also prolongs the lifespan of the equipment and keeps it safe for use.

Secondly, various types of pollution continue to be pertinent issues at construction sites. If left unmonitored, dangerous levels of dust, noise, toxic gases and waste, could cause health hazards such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and hearing loss.

IoT sensors can be installed to monitor air quality and noise levels. For example, when the amount of dust, noxious vapours, and noise emissions exceed the threshold safety levels, alerts are immediately triggered for personnel to act before problems arise, protecting the wellbeing and health not only for workers, but also the communities residing in proximity. Additionally, insights obtained from the IoT platform can be used to finetune precautionary measures to maintain air quality, noise, and waste management at safe levels.

Finally, with a solution like the StarHub 5G IoT Platform, data from various sources is consolidated into a single dashboard to provide real-time insights, which can then be translated into strategies for resource optimisation. This includes surveillance and inspection cameras as well as the multitude of sensors, all of which can be monitored remotely.

Another obstacle construction sites may face is the lack of connectivity, especially in vast open spaces or underground. With the use of smart technologies for automation and surveillance, amongst other uses, stable and reliable connectivity is needed. However, traditional methods of providing connectivity require the laying of underground conduits for power and fibre, which is invasive, labour- and resource-intensive, and very costly.

StarHub’s award-winning outdoor WiFi powered by sustainable solar energy and 5G backhaul is an alternative solution that addresses all these obstacles, being self-sustaining and without the need to lay underground cables. This solution is also integrated with the 5G IoT platform, which enables the collection of data and insights to continually finetune and optimise its functionality and performance.


Overall, harnessing 5G-powered technologies can enable smarter, safer, and more secure and sustainable operations. StarHub has set up a 5G Digital Experience showcase to demonstrate such solutions. Schedule a visit today to experience in person how 5G can help your organisation achieve operational efficiency.

Experience our solutions in person at the StarHub 5G Digital Experience showcase

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