Rita Yi Man Li, Springer, £109.99 hardback, £87.50 ebook *

An Economic Analysis on Automated Construction Safety: internet of things, artificial intelligence and 3D printing

Rita Yi Man Li’s book is a collection of short research papers exploring the use of information technology in construction and its implications for improving safety. Each paper or chapter explores different cutting-edge applications of this technology and includes a cost analysis and references to related research.




Li, who is associate professor at the department of economics and finance and director of the sustainable real estate research centre of Hong Kong Shue Yan University, also pulls together case studies, literature reviews and interviews to support the material.

After an introductory chapter, which outlines the information technology to be covered and the research methodology used, the book moves on to look at robotics, building information modelling (BIM), additive manufacturing (3D printing), software engineering, virtual reality and the “internet of things” (IoT).

The book claims that it “presents cutting-edge applications… in different parts of the world”. The examples are drawn from projects in the US, Australia and Hong Kong but I wasn’t convinced that it had delivered on the “cutting edge” claim. For instance, on robotics, the examples covered the use of robots for installing large glazing panels and exoskeletons to assist with manual handling. Although arguably these technologies are not widely used, I would question whether they would still be considered radical.

I was particularly looking forward to the section on BIM because this 3D model-based process has so much potential to enhance occupational safety and health from design through to the whole lifecycle of the building. Unfortunately, the chapter lacked any meaningful detail. This was also true of other sections, where the examples were limited in their scope for wider application and often were not that innovative.

Since this is a series of research papers, rather than a book, you can save time by skipping the first page or two of most chapters, which act merely as “scene setters” and mostly cover construction incident statistics. The excessive use of English colloquial sayings such as “gone are the days” is at once endearing and irritating but the style of writing is accessible and not overly academic.

The book is aimed at researchers and experts but will “also benefit graduate students”, although the hefty price may deter readers. Li’s book provides a brief, introductory summary to each subject and then lists all the academic references at the end of each chapter – often running to a couple of pages. For all its limitations, as a compendium of research on the different uses of information technology this could be a valuable resource to aid further research or study.

Springer |

 * price correct at the time of review


Kate Field is BSI global champion for occupational health and safety.

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