A sneak peek at real-time 360 collaboration for construction teams
July 17, 2017
Greetings folks! Heading into this week I wanted to share with you a sneak peek of a major collaboration feature we’re preparing to release. Before we get to that, a quick story about why we decided to build this feature and what problem it solves in construction operations.
The story dates back to 2013 when our Head of Product, Philip Lorenzo, was working as a Project Engineer and BIM Coordinator at McCarthy Builders.
On a large hospital project in Northern California Philip experienced the frustration of delays caused by coordination conflicts that could only be solved by project engineers, subs, or architects physically walking the job to see things for themselves. One example of such was the coordination of framing details for the installation of overhead coiling doors. The install required input from multiple trades ranging from framing to electrical to fire & life safety.
Resolving a complex problem with a conflicting detail took several weeks of back and forth communication between several parties. To add to the challenge, the overhead coiling door contractor was understaffed and located two hours away from the jobsite. The problem was only resolved when all parties finally met in the field to discuss the issue in the context of the surrounding framing and MEP systems as well as the current progress of construction.
The lack of jobsite-level context when communicating the issue, despite the availability of photos and sketches, ultimately became a source of schedule delays and required overtime to make up for lost time; at the end of the day, potentially thousands of dollars and weeks in schedule delay could have been avoided if all parties had walked the job together in the first place. This experience back in 2013 led Philip to ask the question:
What if all stakeholders on a project, regardless of their physical location, could ‘walk the job’ from their desktop or mobile device? And what if they could communicate in real-time in that environment?
Back in early 2016 when StructionSite was just an idea, Philip shared with me his vision for a vastly improved way for construction teams to communicate. Instead of communicating in the context of design schematics like 2D drawings or a 3D model, let’s communicate in the context of the real jobsite. The video below shows the original mockup of a product that had been brewing for over three years.
With the recent explosion of low-cost 360 cameras, digitizing the jobsite has never been more cost effective. And because it captures all 360 degrees, you get the true context of the jobsite. A Superintendent we are working with at DPR Construction recently stated in an email…
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That means a 360 picture is worth 360,000 words.
But a 360 camera is just a tool, it needs an actual workflow. So how do we use this tool to build faster and with fewer resources?
Attaching 360 photos to their correct location on a drawing is a good first step, but it’s not enough. That’s still just a static reference. We are taking things one step further by allowing you to communicate in the context of the real jobsite like never before…in real time! The video clip below is a sneak peek at our newest feature which allows real-time chat communication directly inside a 360 photo.
A few of you will see this and immediately be worried that we are creating a place for conversations to happen which are not captured in your various systems of record, like your project management or issue tracking software. Before you get too worried this will become another data silo for your company, know that we have several integrations planned to not only allow the photos you capture in StructionSite to move freely into your other applications, but also the text from the conversations. Our team is incredibly excited to get this in front of you all and we see this as a major step in the direction of truly becoming your digital jobsite.
Do you feel like this is something your company could use? What needs to be improved for it to meet your specific needs? I’d love to hear from you, drop me a line.