What Does the Future Hold for the Construction Industry?

What does the future of technology hold for construction? Will construction eventually become autonomous, too?

It’s safe to say there will be major changes in the construction field as artificial intelligence and IoT technologies advance. Manual brick-and-mortar building will be a thing of the past. Instead, advanced automation technologies will offload tasks that used to require hundreds of hours of dangerous, back-breaking labor.

Self-Repairing Concrete

Concrete that fixes itself? Yes, it’s already in the works! This “smart” concrete would be able to seal its own cracks and prolong the life of the concrete. Why would this be useful? Concrete is the most used construction material in the world as well as the second most consumed substance on the planet, next to water. Though it’s cheap and can be used for a variety of purposes, concrete is prone to cracking under extreme heat or extreme cold. Having the technology available for the concrete to simply heal itself would keep structures stable for longer and have huge environmental benefits.

How would the concrete “heal” itself? The concrete would be embedded with tiny capsules that, upon sensing damage, would rupture and release a substance that would fill in the crack and harden. Do you think this would be a useful technology in construction?

Pollution-Filtering Bricks

Bricks have been fundamental in construction since the Industrial Revolution, a time when pollution first started to become serious. How could bricks help combat pollution? A new type of brick is in development—it would function as an air filter of sorts for the home or building. As the air filters through the brick, the brick would capture and deposit pollutants in the wall’s frame. As a result, the brick would deliver cleaner air inside the structure.

3-D Printed Houses

It seems like just about anything can be 3-D printed these days. From organs to artificial limbs, the possibilities of 3-D printing are seemingly endless. And now, the future of home building is also heading toward a 3-D printing revolution. Is 3-D printing the future of sustainable housing?

A 3-D printer would be able to build the walls and foundation of a house in a few days rather than the weeks and months it would take to build manually. It would create and print the materials off-site and then assemble the house on-site at a later date. 3-D printing not only dramatically speeds up the construction of a house, but it limits construction waste, reduces scraps, and reduces the costs associated with the transport of materials. Technology could also be developed, so 3-D printers could make houses out of sustainable, renewable materials.

3-D printing is already being used to complete full-scale construction projects.

Robotic Swarm Construction

Robotic swarm construction was inspired by the humble termite. Termites are able to work together with hundreds of other termites to build huge mud structures. However, these termites aren’t receiving instructions from anyone. They are working according to their unique, genetically programmed behavior that is imprinted upon their DNA.

This inspired robotic swarm construction, in which small robots “swarm” and work together to build a structure. As with termites, each robot would be programmed to complete a specific task and each robot would be equipped with sensors to stay out of each other’s way. Robotic swarm construction has the ability to combat labor shortages and housing shortages, perform construction quickly and safely, and prevent construction-related injuries.


What do you think about these innovative materials and new technologies? Which do you think would work best in a circular city? Comment below!


Tune into the next episode of the Prefecture Podcast to hear these topics discussed in-depth!

Driving Toward the Future: What Will Autonomous Transportation Be Like in a Circular City?

In order to become to truly low-impact to the environment, our independent attitude toward travel will have to change. What does that mean exactly? Well, on average, we all want to own our own car and go where we want to go when we want to go. Our current individualistic culture supports this desire, while a circular city’s collectivism would not.

Transportation would become less about individual ownership and more about accessibility for all. For the health of the environment, it’s not feasible for every individual of the populous to own a car. Fully accessible public transport, on the other hand, would lower environmental impact, unclog roads, and overall improve the efficiency of travel for all.

In our fictional circular city, Prefecture imagines autonomous public transport taking form as driverless, color-coded pods that are well-attuned to each individual of the populous’ travel needs. The color-coded pods would provide visually recognizable signals to the entire populous. Red pods could signal emergency travel to a medical center, green pods could signal the delivery or transport of goods, blue pods could signal the transport of people, etc.

The pods that travel on electric grids controlled by KAILE would know people’s basic schedules and when they need to travel to work, scheduled activities, and more. KAILE would collect this data on each individual and input it. Presumably, there would also be options to request travel for when transportation is required unexpectedly like for medical emergencies or for spontaneous activities.

These autonomous pods work well for inner-city travel, but what happens when you want to travel outside of your city. Prefecture suggests drones that magnetize to the pods and can simply carry the pods over large distances of rough terrain. While flying cars are often the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the future, are they really necessary or sustainable? The drones could also function as security, perform surveillance, deliver packages, drop off first aid kits, water crops, and more.

When self-driving, autonomous vehicles are mentioned, many people express trepidation at their own loss of control, but perhaps that is just what we need. Over 90% of collisions on the road are caused by human error alone. Once the technology is tested and perfected, autonomous vehicles would dramatically reduce accidents and allow people to get more things accomplished while traveling.

However, one thing some people can’t quite resolve with autonomous vehicles is the loss of the driving experience itself. Would you miss the feeling of driving? Some say this desire to drive could be satisfied with virtual reality games that simulate driving, racing, or mudding without the associated risk. What do you think about this?

What questions or ideas do you have about futuristic transport? Is the desire to drive something that can be mimicked and replaced in the form of a game?

We want to hear from you! Join the discussion and drop a comment below.

Traveling in a Circular City

In the next Prefecture Podcast, we are diving into the circular city’s transportation and medical sectors and how KAILE, our automated AI system, will be involved in both.

How would transportation change in a circular city?

In circular city models, transportation is often re-imagined as rapid, clean, emissionless, silent, and easily accessible to the entire populous. In circular cities, congested streets and stand-still traffic would be a thing of the past. Circular city transport emphasizes adopting electric transportation in both private and public sectors and shifting to micromobility (e.g. e-scooters, e-bikes, etc.).

And we can’t discuss transportation without a circular city’s unique internal infrastructure. Given a circular city’s design concept with radial sectors and circular belts, people would be able to easily return to their destinations without taking the same route back, unlike linear designs. Citizens within the residential belt would all be equidistant to the city center and other locations.

A key principle of circular city transport is shared mobility, or an “as needed” access to transport for the entire populous. This could include electric car-sharing, shared autonomous vehicles, microtransit like electric bikes and scooters, shared-microtransit, and public transport options.

Some transportation technology envisioned in smart cities includes maglev, or magnetic levitation, trains and electric bus platoons that travel on electric grids. Maglev transportation uses two sets of magnets, one to repel and push the train off the tracks, and another to move the train forward. Autonomous electric buses could form platoons, or follow each other for short distances and easily split and reconnect on an electric grid.  Another type of transport tech is the transveyor, which functions like an autonomous conveyor belt that moves horizontally, vertically, and radially around the circular city.

What types of transportation do you envision in a circular city?

How could circular city transportation advance medical needs and emergency services?

The typical circular city design generally features a central dome, in which core educational buildings, research centers, health or childcare facilities, or communications and networking systems can be equally accessed by all in the heart of the city. The circular city’s people-first design makes medical centers and services equally available and equidistant to all residents living in the residential belt.

These short, equal distances make it easier to advance and optimize medical response and emergency transportation. Some even envision vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircrafts as the primary emergency response transportation, in which the aircraft can hover, take off, and land vertically.

 Tune into the next Prefecture Podcast for a more in-depth discussion transportation, medical services, and KAILE!


Can’t wait to start the discussion? Drop a comment below!

Can We Sustainably Feed an Ever-Growing Population?

Agriculture is one of the most powerful tools we have to increase individual quality of living globally. The United States produces enough food domestically to technically be able to feed its entire population and then some. However, due to unequal food affordability, availability, and quality, many people still face food insecurity, poor diets, and hunger.

With approximately 7.5 billion people on the planet and the projected exponential growth of 10 billion people by 2050, food security is on everyone’s mind. Will the world be able to feed itself? How can we sustainably feed an exponentially growing population? Can we ditch traditional farming methods and still feed the world?

With increased commercial and residential buildings replacing agriculture space, the answer to feeding a growing population isn’t simply increasing farmland. In addition, current industrial agricultural practices that use pesticides and other harmful chemicals threaten both the health of people and the planet’s natural resources, such as clean water and soil. As a result, we are faced with two major problems: a lack of space and unsustainable approaches.

One of the solutions experts are exploring is farming without soil. Hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics are three soilless farming methods in which farmers replace the need for soil with nutrient-rich water to support plant roots. Vertical farming incorporates these soilless solutions and grows crops stacked in layers to maximize a smaller space with higher yields.

The ability to harvest higher yields using less space and resources is inherently advantageous to growing populations. In addition, these alternative farming methods would reduce toxic runoff, decrease water pollution, allow hyper-local food systems, and lower food transportation costs. Communities would be able to access fresher foods, healthier foods, and higher quality foods.

However, for every advantage, there are of course disadvantages. Our current farmers are debt-ridden from investing in expensive agricultural equipment, such as combines, that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Consequently, the thought of investing in even more expensive technology for the sake of sustainability isn’t feasible to many farmers at this time, who are still trying to find ways to afford and pay for traditional equipment.

In addition, not everything can be grown hydroponically. Large root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions, or turnips are not optimal in hydroponic environments because their root systems take up too much space. As a result, a mixture of traditional soil farming and soilless farming would be needed to grow a variety of vegetables and fruits. Likewise, as new technology for hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaponics is implemented, there are always technological mistakes and growing pains that could cause whole crops to be lost.

The solution for today won’t always be the solution for tomorrow. Though our current agricultural practices do satisfy our food needs, they may not always in the decades to come.

What are your thoughts on alternative farming methods like hydroponics? What pros and cons do you see for these new farming methods? Do have any sustainable solutions or ideas?

We want to know your thoughts! Join the conversation and drop a comment below!