Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to unleash a revolution in the construction sector. Early adopter firms are already using it to accelerate their digital edge and this is prompting others to look at the benefits it offers them. Large construction sites are already digitised with the roll out of BIM (Building Information Modelling) and so it is a natural progression that AI should find its place. AI can increase efficiency throughout the entire value chain – from the manufacture of building materials to the design, planning and construction phase as well as when the project has been handed over to facility management companies.
Computer Vision (CV) AI represents an opportunity for housebuilders because it is capable of delivering a step change in health and safety performance on site. These platforms collect data using existing assets such as CCTV cameras and “learn” to identify hazards. If a breach is detected, the system sounds an alarm, potentially averting an incident. Because Computer Vision AI gains information from CCTV cameras, which are routinely deployed on site, it can prove a cost-effective investment
As construction sites became larger and more complex, whilst health and safety legislation gets more onerous, Computer Vision AI offers a way of tackling both. Once in place the system tracks and records movements and interactions between site personnel and equipment. These can be instantly assessed in real time against predetermined key performance indicators via PC, laptop or mobile. The historical log and ability to deal with vast amounts of data provides insights that would not be possible if site personnel tried to carry out the role
Humans, will, of course, be the ultimate decision makers, meaning the technology is used as an augmented intelligence that is capable of raising alerts whilst releasing health and safety operatives from the monotonous task of collecting data from the workplace
We can see that next-generation Computer Vision Artificial Intelligence algorithms will deliver real-world workplace safety insights, allowing site managers to make step change improvements. As such I believe it has the ability to make the single largest improvement in construction workplace safety since the introduction of the safety helmet.
In terms of practical applications, CV AI can be used for any task that requires round the clock monitoring, or frequent manual inspections, or involves repetitive tasks. Its principal role is to carry out real-time monitoring and detection of any health and safety non-compliance, for example, whether the correct PPE is being worn. It can even go as far as providing real time alerts when workers walk beneath a suspended load. For workers carrying out duties at height, CV AI will pick up whether they are wearing a safety harness, or whether the number of people working on an elevated platform exceeds the maximum payload.
Hazardous areas on site or where there is potential for build-up of harmful gases, can be monitored by CV AI to ensure all workers have vacated the space before it is secured. And, whilst they are carrying out the task, that they are wearing appropriate breathing apparatus. These are just some of the applications of CV AI. In reality, the technology provides benefits in a vast array of applications within the health and safety sphere, and the platform can be built around specific site or customer needs.
The fact that most construction sites have CCTV infrastructure in place means that it is relatively straightforward and cost effective to access the benefits of Computer Vision AI. With savings on capital investment, weighed against the potential disruption to the schedule, financial damage and effect on workers’ families of an accident, there really are compelling reasons to embrace Computer Vision AI.
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