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A Picture is Worth a 1000 Field Notes

September 27, 2021

Or so the saying goes...

The rapid adoption of photo-inspection technology on construction job sites is destined to have a tremendous impact on the way project reporting and inspection is accomplished. The benefits of visual information are strongly backed by science - 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text - any visual learner would surely concur.

The use of job site cameras can add extensive value that ranges anywhere from monitoring site progress and safety to tracking personnel and equipment. Job site cameras can also help construction project managers stay aware of delivery and material handling.

Of course, these often aren’t your standard Nikons. Cameras employed on job sites today are developed by companies that specifically target our industry with extensive camera solutions geared towards construction activities. That said, there are projects where field personnel may walk around with digital or 360 cameras in their backpacks. And who doesn't have a smartphone in easy reach to snap a shot and help better explain an RFI or other concern on the site?

The growing use of drones or UAV equipment is another way that photos are being incorporated into construction activities. Drones are commonly used during pre-planning and survey phases, while also being extended into construction activities and other parts of the project lifecycle. Drones bring a number of benefits to the inspection process, including reduced risk, improved visual data, and relatively low costs.

Many firms and contractors have realized the simple advantages of having a photo to help explain a concern, address a problem, or prove a completion. This is not a new occurrence; it's been happening for decades. Photos have become increasingly valuable in the digital age because of what they capture and illustrate. The insightful story a photo’s metadata can tell has also contributed to the rise of visual inspections as image capturing technology improves.

Location information is one thing that a drone, smartphone, or most other digital photo devices automatically capture. Photos have been used as evidence in court to prove if one item was delivered or not, or piece of equipment moved or not, or to recognize any other safety or security issue that may have occurred on the site. Now, the advancements go well beyond days of old when a photo was merely used to demonstrate progress. Artificial intelligence is being embraced and machines are being taught to look for certain activities and to recognize specific aspects caught within any photo or video content for that matter.

Today, it is possible for a trained AI to look at a photo and recognize a safety hazard, enabling it to raise a red flag when there is a potential equipment issue or a problem with personnel who aren't adhering to certain guidelines. A photo can be compared to a schedule or 3D model which then brings it into a BIM workflow where progress is not only monitored, but digitally compared to actual as-built environments. Certain analytics are even capturing asset information that could include anything from vehicles around the site to tools, personnel, etc., as well as capturing geo-tagged assets installed on the job in the proper location.

When these examples are added to the rapid development of photogrammetry functionality, which also helps to perform measurements and volumetrics analysis, it becomes crystal clear that the role of a simple photo taken on a construction site is rapidly becoming a treasured asset.

Infotech has a unique strategy around the adoption of photos and we are developing solutions and partnerships that will leverage best-of-breed technologies that can be incorporated into the workflow our field solutions are used for every day. Our mission is to build interoperability into our applications in such a seamless way that there is no disruption to normal routines, simply a new opportunity to have robust deliverables that greatly enhance the digital as-built and e-Construction efforts of our clients. To learn more about the companies we’re working with to incorporate different types of visual data into our construction administration and inspection solutions, visit infotechinc.com/partnerships.

Authors

Ron Perkins
Sr. Business Manager
Ron Perkins is the Senior Business Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Infotech and has been an active member of the Associated General Contractors (AGC). His experience in the AEC industry goes back more than three decades and he has been incredibly involved in technology deployment at the construction site for many years. Ron is also a former US Marine serving as an Assault Amphibian Crewchief of the LVTP-7 (YAT-YAS).
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