Traditionally, the construction sector has been slower to adopt the digital technologies that have been radically changing other British industries. However, within the past year we have seen both the deadline for BIM Level 2 and the damning Farmer’s Report declaring the British construction industry must ‘modernise or die’ or it would face an ‘inexorable decline’ in the years to come. Since then I’ve noticed a rapid turnaround in how construction firms approach digital transformation, with many not only reaching BIM Level 2 but future-proofing themselves for the foreseeable future.
From drones, to AR, and even wearable technology, we’re in a period of extremely rapid technological change. However, I think we could still see improvement and customer benefit through the implementation of smart video technologies in the sector. It is now possible to connect your video and security systems together in the cloud– and soon we will be able to take it even further and use machine learning capabilities to detect hazards and react in real-time with analytical processes monitoring the feed and alerting staff as needed.
It won’t be long before we start seeing the construction industry adopt the cutting-edge technology already proving itself in areas such as retail and hospitality. For example, interconnected technology such as 360-degree video could track movements of workers, heavy machinery and equipment across the construction site, and automatically differentiate between them to know what assets are where – and if they are where they should be. Not only does this mean you will be able to plot the optimal route for travel around a constantly shifting work-site but monitor hazardous or fragile cargo to dramatically reduce the risk of collision or accidents. It also means that workers can remain safely separated from the routes of vehicles. The resulting metrics can then help managers decide optimum staffing routes, levels, and how assets like vehicles and equipment can be used safely and efficiently.
Further to this, if an obstruction in the worker or vehicle path occurs during the course of the day – for example an item falls or is left in the path of machinery – this can be detected in real-time. Even more importantly, once detected, an alert can be pushed automatically out to staff member’s mobile devices allowing them to deal with incident immediately: Before an accident happens.
On top of these uses, businesses will start managing safety standard more effectively through the use of smart video technology. Equipment such as light-up hard hats, safety glasses and reflective clothing are required in construction sites. With the correct systems, smart video could even be used to automatically detect this gear… or lack thereof. By combining the video sensor and motion tracking, smart video systems this can be taken further to automatically log a person as being on-site and detect whether they are wearing the correct equipment, such as a high-visibility jacket or hard hat. If they are not, this could automatically be flagged to the health and safety executive on site. Not only will this increase the safety of staff members but it will also go toward helping safety officers ensure the business is running in compliance with lawful standards.
In conjunction with new technology such as smart storage, smart video can improve efficiency by monitoring and relaying information on stock levels and detect when it is running low, improving the bottom-line through reduced wastage. Furthermore, there is the potential for smart video to be combined with external sources, such as weather data, to automatically alert management if the wind is picking up, or a storm is incoming, so the site can be safely shut up and at-risk equipment stored away, before any damage occurs.
Overall, this is an exciting time to be working within construction. The sector is going through a period of intense and dramatic change that is opening the door to new opportunities. For companies that are willing to embrace and invest in technology, the future is not only bright… it’s smart.
By Scott Brothers, Vice President of Corporate Development at Oncam