A new partnership between IBM and Fluor, a global engineering and construction company, is looking to change the construction industry with technology reports, Curbed's Patrick Sisson.

The new Watson-based system, in development since 2015 and now in use on select projects, will be able to analyze a job site “like a doctor diagnoses a patient,” according to Leslie Lindgren, Fluor’s vice president of Information Management. That degree of risk analysis, predictive logistics, and comprehension is no small challenge given the complexity of today’s construction megaprojects.

On especially complicated projects, Fluor will begin using two new tools, the EPC Project Health Diagnostics and the Market Dynamics/Spend Analytics, to make sense of the thousands of data points found on a crowded construction site. Constant analysis will help forecast issues before they show up, and automate how materials and workers are distributed. Eventually, the system will develop natural language functionality.

Applying artificial intelligence to the field won’t bring robots in hard hats, at least not anytime soon. But it can help with cost, scheduling, and quality for an industry in need of cost cutting. According to a McKinsey & Co. analysis, construction projects routinely lose up to a third of their value to waste.

“Construction is one of the least digitized industries, so many startups are seizing the opportunity to build technology that would increase efficiency within this market,” Michael Wholey, an intelligence analyst for CB Insights, told Curbed.

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