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How the Coronavirus Is Bringing the Future, Faster

BY STEPHEN E. SANDHERR, AGC CEO

One of the clear impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is the acceleration of a host of innovations that were already underway within the construction industry and our association. To be clear, there is nothing positive about the coronavirus pandemic and its tragic consequences. But the virus is forcing all of us to adopt new ways to successfully build projects and run your association sooner than most of us had previously anticipated.

The construction industry was already beginning to adopt a host of innovative new technologies and techniques before the pandemic hit in the early spring. The biggest challenge to innovation prior to the coronavirus was being able to justify the costs, and risks, of adoption com-pared to vague promises of greater efficiency. COVID changed that calculus as many firms realized that the only way they would be able to build safely was by accelerating their adoption of these new innovations.

Takes drones, for example. Prior to the pandemic, firms were using drones as an easier way to do things like conduct inspections in hard-to-reach areas, to film progress and to measure quantities of aggregates moved. But with coronavirus precautions forcing firms to limit the number of personnel on jobsites, drones have replaced many of the visual inspections that would have been handled by the staff in the construction trailer.

Similarly, construction firms once viewed wearable technologies that tracked the movement of workers on a jobsite as a way to, potentially, streamline workflow and improve efficiency. Now those same devices have become closer to essential as firms track the movement of workers to avoid prolonged close contact and make sure everyone is following coronavirus safety protocols.

We see the same kind of accelerated innovation within AGC of America. Prior to the pandemic, we had been exploring ways to offer more classes via the internet and to make our conferences and meetings more accessible. Worries about competing with in-seat registrations kept us from fully embracing virtual sessions and events. But the coronavirus left us no choice but to adapt to continue serving member needs, and we now offer a robust suite of classes, conferences and meetings on-line.

While none of us wanted the pandemic, few of us are likely to walk back many of the innovations we have been forced to adopt. That is be-cause these construction technologies aren’t just protecting workers, they are making projects more efficient, easier to manage and keep on schedule. Meanwhile, the innovations AGC has adopted are making it easier for more members to take advantage of our offerings. Indeed, we have seen record levels of engagement since shifting many of our services on-line.

When the pandemic passes, the new normal will include many of the things we used to do as well as many of the things we are all now forced to do. That is precisely why AGC of America will continue to focus on the future so members can have access to the best information about new technologies and new techniques. And that is why we will continue to innovate and evolve to meet the future needs of our mem-bers.

You can see that focus here in this issue of Constructor, which includes our annual Future Focus insert. This special section provides insights into some of the new innovations that are quickly becoming essential on construction projects. Beyond this special issue, AGC will continue to provide information about new technologies and new techniques during our events and educational offerings, as well as through our ConstructorCast podcast. Our goal is clear, to make sure that all members are prepared for the future that is approaching faster than ever before.