Jobsite Information Management — Is Software Eating Construction?

Marc Andreessen is an internet pioneer who helped create the first widely used web browser, Netscape. In 2011, he noted that “software is eating the world” in a Wall Street Journal article, evidenced by changes in many businesses across multiple sectors. Construction is not immune to this trend and as the connected jobsite slowly starts to become reality, we are seeing the rise in the importance of jobsite automation software.

The most visible of the impacts of software in construction is project management. Project Management software focuses on some key information functions in the construction lifecycle. These functions include document management, scheduling, and financial management, and safety. Some now work to extend into field management with functions such as time tracking or subcontractor management.

All of the functions that Project Management software systems address are generally centered on documents and workflow between team members. But there is another important piece that is required to fully realize the potential of the automated jobsite in construction: real-time jobsite information.  Once a design is complete, and a project plan is put in place, it is imperative to execute on the construction of a project. It is this phase that determines the actual outcome of the project in terms of cost, schedule, safety, and quality. It is this phase that makes the design and the plan a reality.

Jobsite Information Management (JIM) is what we will call the function to manage information coming from the actual jobsite during the execution phase. This jobsite-execution information is different in nature than that managed by the Project Management system. The workflows and value provided by JIM serve the functions of project execution and can significantly affect project outcomes in terms of cost, schedule, safety, and quality.

Data Managed by JIM

The types of real-time information gathered from the jobsite during execution phase include:

  • Materials and Assets – understand when they arrive onsite, as well as their utilization
  • Photo documentation –if issues arise there is recorded information available to evaluate
  • Visual Monitoring –remote, real-time visual monitoring
  • Personnel workflows – understand their productivity, efficiency, and validate their cost
  • Safety compliance – review incidents and ensure compliance with policies onsite
  • Security – monitoring to support asset and staff security

This data is collected in real-time across the jobsite through a variety of means. Cameras and Drones can be used to capture photo documentation. Materials, assets, and personnel can be tracked using electronic tags. Real-time visual monitoring for remote diagnostics and project monitoring are provided by fixed cameras or mobile devices such as smartphone and tablet applications.  Security monitoring is provided through a combination of cameras and sensors.

Insights, Actions & Organization

JIM serves several critical functions for the project team including:

  • Identify critical issues suggested by incoming site data to support safety compliance
  • Provide materials status information to support schedule management
  • Provide asset utilization information to help control costs
  • Share information across a team according to workflow rules
  • Automatically organize collected jobsite data
  • Detect safety and security events; document and notify team members
  • Remote expertise and diagnostics

JIM works to provide insights to the project team using information filtering, searching, and analytics for automatic detection of events. It supports rapid action by automatically detecting events and jobsite status in real-time and relating that event or status to the project plan and communicating it across the team.

Analytics can operate on all JIM data sources to automate detection of events, and classification of incoming information. For example, safety and security events can be detected automatically, reducing the manpower required to assure compliance with safety protocols and documenting events. 

Jobsite data is automatically archived in terms of project phases and milestones and plans to streamline as-built documentation. An example of this is companies starting to automatically organize project imagery in 3D using the BIM model.

Real-time visual monitoring can be used to deliver remote expertise and diagnostics to keep a project on-track and lower cost.  When project issues arise, the best expertise can be brought in remotely, like telemedicine, to diagnose and plan corrections in real-time, helping maintain schedule and project quality.

A Proposed JIM Architecture

In addition to managing the required incoming data, and supporting the project team functions above, a successful JIM must also address some additional requirements to be a viable solution for the automated jobsite. These include:

  • Cloud-based – allows the simplest deployment at the lowest cost, and flexible access
  • Integrated – must seamlessly integrate with other construction software functions such as Project Management and BIM
  • Mobile – must be fully accessible by the project team on-the-move
  • Scalable and flexible – to support various project types and sizes
  • Multiple data sources – support inputs from various types of sensors and inputs on the jobsite

JIM in Action

Sensera Systems provides clients with the ability to utilize JIM through the use of Sensera’s Jobsite and Security Cameras coupled with the robust tools inside of SiteCloud.  SiteCloud provides a rich set of features to view and manage archived images and video.  The web-hosted application allows project manages to have secure storage and backup of project data, video streaming, time-lapse videos, in addition to providing real-time security alerts. SiteCloud allows for multiple users so that information can easily be shared with stakeholders of their projects. Plus, SiteCloud offers software integrations with Autodesk BIM 360ProcorePlanGrid, as well as an array of other construction focused programs and an API to allow integrations with custom applications to meet a client’s exact requirements.

Benefits of implementing JIM through Sensera Systems include:

  • Photo documentation – review images and videos of incidents on your jobsite in SiteCloud from any-where on any device
  • Share information easily across team members
  • Integrated tools- connects with a variety of Project Management software
  • Remote visual monitoring – less back and forth from the office to the jobsite
  • Personnel workflows – increase employee productivity and efficiency
  • Safety compliance – make sure your jobsite maintains OSHA standards
  • Security – monitor asset and ensure staff security with real time alerts

Learn more about how Sensera Systems cameras can positively impacting your projects by scheduling a demo.