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Introductory Chapter: Intelligence, Sustainable and Post-COVID-19 Resilience Built Environment: An Agenda for Future

Written By

Samad Sepasgozar, José David Bienvenido-Huertas, Sara Shirowzhan and Sharifeh Sargolzae

Published: June 2nd, 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.97100

From the Edited Volume

Design of Cities and Buildings

Edited by Samad Sepasgozar, Sara Shirowzhan, Sharifeh Sargolzae and José David Bienvenido-Huertas

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1. Introduction

Digital communication and information technologies were the core of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses and tasks have been done remotely, such as business meetings, education, and e-commerce. There are many reports that show technology played an essential role in response to the pandemic and is predicted to be the core strategy for long-term resilience.

The recent reports show that the use of digital technologies and further technical advances occurred due to COVID-19 in different sectors, including infrastructure and transportation [1]. The initial readiness for adopting the Fourth Industrial Revolution concept [2, 3] in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector was helpful for industry resilience during COVID-19. The current reports show that the adoption process of Industry 4.0 technologies will be accelerated due to the community’s higher demand in terms of working remotely with less human close interactions [1]. The current investigations show that site managers and operational teams in the construction, transportation, and infrastructure sectors need to monitor the progress of tasks and keep track. In addition, they should assist their team members and ensure they will achieve the project objectives, including time, cost, and quality. However, the investigations show that the lockdown caused many difficulties to managers’ tasks and attending the construction site or infrastructures [1]. However, designers using digital technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) [4, 5, 6] or Geographic Information System (GIS) [7, 8, 9] experienced much less difficulties. This chapter aims to provide an insight into the recent literature of COVID-19 in the built environment. Then, suggestions for future studies are presented.


2. Scientometric analysis of COVID-19 in the built environment

The scientometric analysis technique is adopted to identify key knowledge themes and map them to identity overlaps, gaps, emerging topics and monitor the growth of the literature with the included patterns. This is a recommended approach since many studies in the field used scientometric analysis techniques in different contexts such as lean construction [10], additive manufacturing [11], carbon emission [12], smart home [13], delay analysis [14].

Figure 1 shows nine clusters of keywords in the recent publications that appeared on the Scopus database, including 2,185 journal articles. The main cluster has a strong co-occurrence with COVID-19 and refers to different themes such as sustainability, urban development, and public spaces. Other important clusters refer to humans, cities, and deep learning. The air quality, humidity, wind speed, and other environmental attributes received significant attention. However, some other themes, such as the role of digital technologies for post-pandemic and improving the resilience of the country and cities, are slowly developing.

Figure 1.

Co-occurrence analytical map of keywords created on the COVID-19 literature (see the first set of strings in appendix). A total of 1308 keywords out of the sample of 9460 keywords are shown since they meet the threshold with the minimum co-occurrence of 3.


3. An agenda for future studies

This chapter reviewed the current literature of COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 to understand the literature’s themes and directions. However, more detailed investigations are required to use different databases and identify the suggested solutions for post-COVID-19 in the businesses relevant to the built environment, including transportation and construction. The impact of the pandemic on the construction industry has been evaluated in different contexts and countries such as Oman [15], Jordan [16], the United Kingdom [1, 17], Seri Lanka [18], South Africa [19], Japan [20] and Argentina [21]. However, most of the publications are affiliated with authors from developed countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Germany, and Spain, including a few developing countries (see Figure 2 ).

Besides the growing literature of ‘impact’ evaluations, there will be many industry and government reports available providing evidence of affected firms and people. However, some studies suggest that the impact analysis investigations are not enough yet, and some other affected areas should be evaluated. For example, Zheng, Chen [22] suggest that the pandemic’s impact on construction productivity should be evaluated since it helps practitioners plan alternative solutions.

The literature of post-COVID-19 is limited. Using ‘post-COVID-19’ in the relevant journals and subjects resulted in only 344 documents (see the second search string in Appendix). This chapter suggests focusing on the post-COVID-19 period by offering new solutions, resilience strategies, and developing digital technologies, suggesting new applications and use cases, particularly from technical perspectives. Figure 2 shows that most published papers focused on social science, business management, and health issues (see the third search string in Appendix). While digital technologies play a critical role in distance communication, monitoring, tracking, and e-management, less than 10% of the papers focused on digital development from an engineering perspective.

Figure 2.

The selected literature analysis is based on countries and subject areas (see the second set of strings in appendix).

In line with the recovery plan and post-COVID-19 resilience strategies, the following topics are suggested to be investigated in the future:

  • Risk management for continuity of tasks in construction and other relevant businesses. The need for scenario modeling and simulations as well as contingency planning is increased. Some digital tools will be helpful such as data mining and visualization, machine learning, and digital twinning. There is a wide range of risks that should be considered, such as suicide risk in construction [23], labor market during COVID-19 [24], safety measures in construction projects [19], specific sectors with tunneling and underground activities [25].

  • The resilience of critical infrastructure at the national or regional levels will be one of the demanding topics.

  • Remote operation, particularly in transportation or construction sites, is difficult, but it is demanding. Robotics, 3D Printing [3, 26, 27], autonomous systems, computer vision, and detection algorithms [28], monitoring and sensing technologies [29, 30, 31], the internet of things (IoT), geospatial intelligence, and analytic systems [28, 32, 33], intelligent contract administration [34], smart city technologies [35, 36] and cybersecurity tools should be further developed for different tasks. The role of Internet Of Things, drones, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and 5G technologies for pandemic management in healthcare was reviewed recently by Chamola et al. [37].

  • Logistics and supply chain management needs to be redefined in the future as the core element of city resilience. The recent publications focused on the food supply chain [38], but construction and housing, real estate [39], and other sectors need to redefine or design alternatives for their supply chain management.

  • Energy efficiency tools and technologies and developing alternative sources are demanding and should be investigated future. Reliable energy systems with lower costs and real-time optimization gird need to be extended further.

  • Improve education and skills in the AEC sector, enabling the continuity of work using advanced or complex technologies

  • Investigations on cross-sector collaborations need to be conducted. These collaborations and sharing data platforms will help practitioners learn from best and worst practices and work together to improve the supply chain process and increase resilience [1].

  • Strategies should be developed to maintain the emission reduction in cities. The air quality improved in many cities due to the reduction of emissions [1240]. For example, Li, Li [41] reported that the PM2.5, NO2, and SO2 emissions decreased significantly due to the reduction of their concentrations by 31.8%, 45.1%, and 20.4% in pandemic at selected case areas of the Yangtze River Delta Region in China.


Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


The first search string used in Scopus resulted in 2,185 documents. The first string is:


The second string used in Scopus resulted in 344 documents. The second string is:


The third-string used in Scopus resulted in 162 documents. The third-string is:

(TITLE-ABS-KEY (post-COVID-19) AND TITLE-ABS-KEY (construction OR architecture OR design OR “Built Environment” OR city OR transportation))


  1. 1. Jallow, H., S. Renukappa, and S. Suresh, The impact of COVID-19 outbreak on United Kingdom infrastructure sector. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, 2020
  2. 2. Sepasgozar, S.M., Digital technology utilisation decisions for facilitating the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies. Construction Innovation, 2020
  3. 3. Tahmasebinia, F., et al., Criteria development for sustainable construction manufacturing in Construction Industry 4.0. Construction Innovation, 2020
  4. 4. Shi, A., et al., 5D BIM Applications in Quantity Surveying: Dynamo and 3D Printing Technologies, in Smart Cities and Construction Technologies. 2020, IntechOpen
  5. 5. Shirowzhan, S., et al., BIM compatibility and its differentiation with interoperability challenges as an innovation factor. Automation in Construction, 2020. 112: p. 103086
  6. 6. Perera, U., et al., Application of building information modelling for fire hazard management in high-rise buildings: an investigation in Sri Lanka. Intelligent Buildings International, 2021: p. 1-15
  7. 7. Shirowzhan, S. and S.M. Sepasgozar, Spatial analysis using temporal point clouds in advanced GIS: Methods for ground elevation extraction in slant areas and building classifications. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 2019. 8(3): p. 120
  8. 8. Shirowzhan, S., J. Trinder, and P. Osmond, New Metrics for Spatial and Temporal 3D Urban Form Sustainability Assessment Using Time Series Lidar Point Clouds and Advanced GIS Techniques, in Urban Design. 2019, IntechOpen
  9. 9. Shirowzhan, S., W. Tan, and S.M. Sepasgozar, Digital Twin and CyberGIS for Improving Connectivity and Measuring the Impact of Infrastructure Construction Planning in Smart Cities. 2020, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
  10. 10. Sepasgozar, S.M.E., et al., Lean Practices Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Digital Twinning for Sustainable Construction. Sustainability, 2021. 13(1): p. 161
  11. 11. Sepasgozar, S.M., et al., Additive Manufacturing Applications for Industry 4.0: A Systematic Critical Review. Buildings, 2020. 10(12): p. 231
  12. 12. Sepasgozar, S.M., et al., Methods for monitoring construction off-road vehicle emissions: a critical review for identifying deficiencies and directions. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2019. 26(16): p. 15779-15794
  13. 13. Sepasgozar, S., et al., A Systematic Content Review of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things Applications in Smart Home. Applied Sciences, 2020. 10(9): p. 3074
  14. 14. Sepasgozar, S.M., et al., Delay Causes and Emerging Digital Tools: A Novel Model of Delay Analysis, Including Integrated Project Delivery and PMBOK. Buildings, 2019. 9(9): p. 191
  15. 15. Al Amri, T. and M. Marey-Pérez, Impact of COVID-19 on Oman's Construction Industry. Technium Soc. Sci. J., 2020. 9: p. 661
  16. 16. Bsisu, K.A.-D., The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Jordanian civil engineers and construction industry. International Journal of Engineering Research and Technology, 2020. 13(5): p. 828-830
  17. 17. Shibani, A., D. Hassan, and N. Shakir, The Effects of Pandemic on Construction Industry in the UK. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 2020. 11(6): p. 48-48
  18. 18. Pathirana, L., Effect of COVID-19 and Strategic Response: A Review on Sri Lankan Construction Industry. SSRG International Journal of Economics and Management Studies, 2020. 7: p. 73-77
  19. 19. Amoah, C. and F. Simpeh, Implementation challenges of COVID-19 safety measures at construction sites in South Africa. Journal of Facilities Management, 2020
  20. 20. Miyakawa, D., K. Oikawa, and K. Ueda, Firm exit during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from japan. Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 2020. 59: p. 101118
  21. 21. Alzúa, M.L. and P. Gosis, Social and economic impact of COVID-19 and policy options in Argentina. UNDP LAC C, 2020. 19
  22. 22. Zheng, L., K. Chen, and L. Ma, Knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards COVID-19 among construction industry practitioners in China. Frontiers in public health, 2020. 8: p. 981
  23. 23. King, T.L. and A.D. Lamontagne, COVID-19 and suicide risk in the construction sector: preparing for a perfect storm. Scandinavian journal of public health, 2021: p. 1403494821993707
  24. 24. Byrne, S., et al., The initial labour market impact of COVID-19. Central Bank Economic Letter, 2020. 2020(4)
  25. 25. Wang, Z., Z. Liu, and J. Liu, Risk Identification and Responses of Tunnel Construction Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Advances in Civil Engineering, 2020. 2020
  26. 26. Tahmasebinia, F., et al., Three-Dimensional Printing Using Recycled High-Density Polyethylene: Technological Challenges and Future Directions for Construction. Buildings, 2018. 8(11): p. 165
  27. 27. Niemeläa, M., et al. 3D Printing Architectural Freeform Elements: Challenges and Opportunities in Manufacturing for Industry 4.0. in Proceedings of the 36th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC). 2019
  28. 28. Liu, C., et al., Evaluation of classical operators and fuzzy logic algorithms for edge detection of panels at exterior cladding of buildings. Buildings, 2019. 9(2): p. 40
  29. 29. Shirowzhan, S., S. Sepasgozar, and C. Liu, Monitoring physical progress of indoor buildings using mobile and terrestrial point clouds, in Construction Research Congress 2018. 2018
  30. 30. Sepasgozar, S.M., C. Wang, and S. Shirowzhan. Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation of Laser Scanners in Building Construction. in 33rd International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC 2016). AUBURN, ALABAMA, USA
  31. 31. Yang, X., et al., Automated PPE-Tool pair check system for construction safety using smart IoT. Journal of Building Engineering, 2020. 32: p. 101721
  32. 32. Shirowzhan, S., et al., Data mining for recognition of spatial distribution patterns of building heights using airborne lidar data. Advanced Engineering Informatics, 2020. 43: p. 101033
  33. 33. Shirowzhan, S. and S. Lim. Autocorrelation statistics-based algorithms for automatic ground and non-ground classification of Lidar data. in ISARC. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction. 2014. IAARC Publications
  34. 34. McNamara, A.J. and S.M. Sepasgozar, Intelligent contract adoption in the construction industry: Concept development. Automation in Construction, 2021. 122: p. 103452
  35. 35. Shirowzhan, S., W. Tan, and S.M. Sepasgozar, Spatial big data, BIM and advanced GIS for smart transformation: city, infrastructure and construction. 2020: MDPI
  36. 36. Zhang, K. and S. Shirowzhan, Smart Cities and Construction Technologies. 2020
  37. 37. Chamola, V., et al., A comprehensive review of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of IoT, drones, AI, blockchain, and 5G in managing its impact. Ieee access, 2020. 8: p. 90225-90265
  38. 38. Singh, S., et al., Impact of COVID-19 on logistics systems and disruptions in food supply chain. International Journal of Production Research, 2020: p. 1-16
  39. 39. Uchehara, I., et al., Impacts and risk management of COVID-19 pandemic on real estate supply chain. International journal of real estate studies, 2020. 14(Special Issue 1)
  40. 40. Sepasgozar, S.M. and J. Blair, Measuring non-road diesel emissions in the construction industry: a synopsis of the literature. International Journal of Construction Management, 2019: p. 1-16
  41. 41. Li, L., et al., Air quality changes during the COVID-19 lockdown over the Yangtze River Delta Region: An insight into the impact of human activity pattern changes on air pollution variation. Science of The Total Environment, 2020. 732: p. 139282

Written By

Samad Sepasgozar, José David Bienvenido-Huertas, Sara Shirowzhan and Sharifeh Sargolzae

Published: June 2nd, 2021