Apr 29 2016

Infrakit: where BIM meets geospatial

Infrakit is particularly aimed at digital collaboration on infrastructure projects, with strong BIM and geospatial integrations.

Infrakit logoKeeping an eye and ear open for new SaaS construction software startups, I was pleased to hear from Helsinki, Finland-based startup Infrakit, particularly as it has strong relevance to the civil engineering sector, and also because of its focus on geospatial working and on open standards.

Founded in 2010, the now 13-strong company says it was born as the result of research on construction automation conducted at the University of Oulu. Like many other projects, this identified that progress and completion of infrastructure projects was frequently slowed by inefficient and clumsy communication flows, so the team created a platform for the digital flow of designs and as-built information throughout all projects, aiming to eliminate many of the delays and errors caused by lack of communication. Its ambition is to “become the global industry standard in handling open digital design data and in quality management reporting”.

Infrakit features include centralised project document management. It says:

“Using digital designs in open formats enables unhindered information flow between the project owner, designers, contractors and consultants — thus decreasing the amount of errors and total project costs. With Infrakit Construction Collaboration Cloud the project owner can follow project progress in real time and get quality assurance reports as they are completed to ensure quality standards are met.”

Geospatial working

These are familiar selling points, but there is also a strong real-time geospatial element to how the Infrakit platform works (last November, I noted the AGI Foresight 2020 report calling for wider use of ‘location intelligence’). In an email, I was told Infrakit also helps land surveyors by integrating GNSS [Global Navigation Satellite System] equipment with its cloud tools – the worksite’s CAD software, machinery, GPS equipment and people, through all project phases, are all managed on the one platform.

During construction the designs in Infrakit are supplemented with as-built measurements. Measured points can be combined with design surfaces and the system automatically displays differences as color-coded icons on the map. Possible changes to designs can be updated directly to Infrakit so they are immediately available to all relevant parties and appropriate procedures can be initiated without any delay. A perfect database containing initial data, design files and as-built measurements is formed during the project. Utilization of this information continues during maintenance phase.

The Infrakit toolset incorporates both desktop browser and mobile applications:

  • The web version adopts a map interface, whereby users can view and manage BIM models, as-built information and photos. As-builts, photos and machine control system management all have their own dedicated toolkits; users can also open work machine performance, efficiency and usage history in calendar views, view BIMs, and view real-time as-built points gathered from the field equipment.
  • The Android tablet application incorporates the user’s position into terrain models on a map display, and allows specific models or designs to be viewed over the background map. Cross-sections showing all design surfaces and related as-built points, including tolerance information, can also be viewed. The app integrates with GNSS products from Topcon, Javad, Trimble and Leica, or any GNSS device supporting Bluetooth (read Infrakit blog post).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/infrakit-where-bim-meets-geospatial/

Apr 26 2016

Journal whets Southern African IT appetites

A new southern African construction IT journal and Africa’s first construction IT summit show there is a growing appetite for new construction tools and techniques in the region.

CS&IT coverI have written occasionally about construction software vendors’ activities in southern Africa, but a factor in expansion into that region, particularly for Software-as-a-Service vendors, has been internet connectivity. As a result, it has lagged behind other parts of the developing world in adopting and using cloud-based technologies, but there have been some encouraging signs in recent years.

Some European SaaS construction software businesses have opened offices in South Africa, including Denmark’s Docia (April 2012 post; Docia has since, in 2014, been acquired by RIB) and London-based Asite (October 2014 post). Other businesses also picked up work with South Africa-based customers, including iSite (post), but otherwise the region has remained relatively untouched by other SaaS vendors – even by Aconex, which has historically spread its net very widely, including into north Africa.

However, the region is thirsty for information about the latest IT trends, including SaaS and BIM, and to meet this demand, publishing company Hypenica has launched Construction Software & IT: A Journal for Digital Construction Solutions, which is edited by Vaughan Harris (in the past associated with RIB, CCS/4Projects and Asite). The journal is closely associated with the Cape Town-based BIM Institute, which is also organising the region’s first Construction IT Summit and Expo, in Johannesburg on 11 May 2016 (with Asite and RIB not surprisingly among the participating companies). If they wish visitors can also spend time in the parallel African Construction and Totally Concrete Expos.

Vaughan Harris writes:

Vaughan Harris“As Africa’s construction industry continues to evolve, there have been significant technological improvements, but BIM is still very much a new acronym to the industry.

The recent establishment of the South African BIM Institute, in May 2015, will play a pivotal role in supporting and promoting the BIM process for Africa, with CanBIM (Canadian BIM Council) and the AEC (UK) assisting in regulating all BIM protocols and BIM education for Africa. The BIM Institute has also been established to promote the development of information technology solutions and processes within the construction industry.

It is imperative that local construction companies take a strategic long-term view of their business, so they can invest in improved technology and affordable software solutions if BIM is to play a role in Africa’s sustainable development process. Companies also need to consider how to invest in information technology processes that are helping to shape and improve sustainable development.

Leveraging technology will be imperative – not just to make construction projects more efficient but also helps to reduce printing costs, reduce duplication and human error and show improved accountability and transparency.”

Disclosure: I have written commentary pieces for the Construction Software & IT journal.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/journal-whets-southern-african-it-appetites/

Apr 26 2016

Go-Cam founder responds

Go-cam logoLast month, I wrote a blog post about the Go-Cam video snagging app. After giving it a quick test on my Samsung Galaxy S6 Android smartphone, I identified various issues with the service – to which the founder of Go-Cam, Tod Yeadon, has responded:

Tod Yeadon, Founder of Go-CamPreventing disputes with Go-Cam Video Reporting

As the founder of Go-Cam I was grateful for Paul’s feedback, hearing about user’s experiences (whether good or bad) will notify us of the problems we don’t always pick up on.

It was disappointing that Paul had a bad experience, however, all this feedback reminded us that (like all new releases) everything was not going to be without it’s problems from the get go. In response to Paul’s review, I have chosen to provide some feedback on Paul’s experience, the app’s teething problems and most importantly – point out the things which might have been forgotten.

The review was based on using the app on an Android device, we have got Apple devices working consistently now however, some Android devices (& browsers on viewing the report pages) are sometimes buggy, as is the case here.

The Android tests I have carried-out have worked fine, other than when the Report page is viewed in Safari which is struggling with video playback. I expect to see issues such as this appearing from time to time, there is such a wide variety of Android devices and browsers / O.S.’s, unfortunately we cannot test them all and tech bloggers generally understand this, particularly with first releases.

What we can do however, is ensure that all these problems are reported to our developers and I am positive that they will keep myself and the users updated on any disruption.

That said, Paul definitely seems to recognise the benefits of video reporting and implies that the app is a good idea, so if we can overcome tech shortcomings we can see that there is a positive message here.

The only other negative was a suggestion that the construction industry would not pay for the coms needed to use the app (in the absence of a good network connection) but that is not necessary as we have the “Unsent Report” where Reports are recorded and sent at a later time in the absence of an adequate network.

It’s interesting to note that 80% of our downloads are on iTunes, so it’s unfortunate that the particular Android set-up Paul was using is not one we have tested. There is definitely room for improvement and we will invite Paul to have another go at testing it once we have corrected the problems on our side. Until then, all feedback is good for first releases, so try out the app for yourself and let us know what you think.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/go-cam-founder-responds/

Apr 25 2016

Bridgit closes $1.7m seed funding round

Bridgit logoBridgit, the Ontario, Canada-based construction project management technology startup, has closed a US$1.7 million seed round led by Hyde Park Venture Partners with participation from Vanedge Capital.

The business, which I first wrote about in August 2014, plans to use the funding to hire new engineers and salespeople and acquire more US customers for its mobile applications.

Mallorie Brodie, CEO and co-founder of Bridgit says:

“The construction industry has been slow to adopt to new technology, but as we talk to residential and commercial builders, it’s clear they are hungry for technology that lowers cost, simplifies processes and make it easier to get their jobs done. We’re excited to partner with Hyde Park and Vanedge so we can put Bridgit’s solutions into the hands of more people who need them.”

Mallorie BrodieBridgit was founded in 2012 by Brodie, right, and Lauren Lake. Both founders’ families are in the construction industry, and the women suspected it was ripe for innovation. The pair proved the validity of their concept by talking to workers about their challenges and frustrations. Contractors kept track of to-do lists on sticky notes and scribbles on plans nailed to the wall. More organized contractors kept spreadsheets of different tasks and notes, and then emailed or phoned in requests to the appropriate subcontractors.

With Bridgit, commercial and residential builders can use a mobile app to assign and track different tasks. If one piece of work is not completed correctly, the contractor can snap a photo and send it along with relevant notes directly to the subcontractors to make sure it is fixed without holding up other work. Bridgit helps track each task and deadline to hold workers accountable for completing tasks correctly and on time. To date, Bridgit says its application has been used by more than 100 contractors and has consistently achieved double-digit month-over-month revenue growth.

Greg Barnes, principal of Hyde Park Venture Partners, says:

“We believe that this type of innovation is sorely needed in the construction industry and that Bridgit has the ideal team to deliver it. We can’t wait to see Mallorie, Lauren and their growing corps of experts build upon their solid foundation in the U.S. market.

V. Paul Lee, managing director of Vanedge Capital, says:

”Bridgit exemplifies a strong startup company with a young and effective management team that is taking the latest developments in technology and bringing it to traditional industries to dramatically improve their efficiency and work process. The cost savings to the construction industry will be significant.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/bridgit-closes-1-7m-seed-funding-round/

Apr 25 2016

think project! adds Mapdash interface

Germany’s think project! SaaS platform now offers a Google Map interface and a BIM starter pack.

Thinkproject-logoMunich, Germany-based SaaS project platform provider think project! has released a new version of its cross-enterprise collaboration solution. Version 8 makes it possible to easily view comprehensive project data via MapDash – a new visual interface for the presentation of project information – and also provides a BIM Collaboration starter pack.  

MapDash

thinkproject - mapdashMapDash is an entirely new optional interface that puts visual representation of their project at users’ fingertips. Projects can be displayed on a Google Map to provide quick overviews of their current status as well as project details, photographs, project progress, deadlines, costs and related documents.

BIM collaboration

The starter pack for BIM Collaboration encompasses three modules first launched in July 2015 (post) aiming to enable more effective collaboration.

  • thinkproject - BIM coordinationBIM Exchange simplifies exchange of models between project participants
  • BIM Coordination enables coordination of partial models and allows them to be enriched with information
  • BIM Review allows verification of models directly from a web browser.

Visualisation also plays an important role, with the inclusion of a high-performance viewer in the BIM starter pack – so no specialist software is required to view models and users can work on-site using a tablet.

Jochen Maurer, Head of Product Management at think project! says:

Jochen MaurerOur most important goal of the new release was to make complex project information easier to understand by presenting it visually. Rapidly accessible and reliable information is the foundation for a myriad of decisions made on a daily basis throughout a project, and we wanted to simplify the decision-making process. Our most recent innovation of MapDash offers an entirely new way of visually presenting the valuable information saved in think project!. At a glance, you can see all the important information relating to each of your construction project, as well as relating to the different parts of a major infrastructure construction project.” 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/think-project-adds-mapdash-interface/

Apr 24 2016

Zuuse targeting BIM to FM opportunity

zuuse logo with nameAustralian start-up Zuuse ambitiously aims to shake up the facilities management market, bridging the gap from BIM to FM.

While we have seen a considerable shift over the past 20 years from mainly on-premise management of documents and drawings to management of information ‘in the cloud’, the focus tended to be on accelerating the once largely paper-based design and construction processes, not on the rest of a built asset’s operational life.

Moving towards FM in the cloud

iSite HubWith a few honourable exceptions (some mentioned in the previous post about Combinder), the opportunity to extend re-use of electronic information held by SaaS collaboration vendors beyond commissioning and handover has tended to be overlooked. Now part of Aconex, Conject (with its infrastructure lifecycle management, ILM, strategy and a portfolio including FM solutions), and competitors McLaren Software (acquiring CAFM Explorer) and iSite (promoting its ‘Assetology’ Hub approach since 2012)* all looked to be moving towards so-called ‘cradle-to-grave’ information management, but most of their rivals have largely focused on project delivery rather than the follow-on asset lifecycle management.

The ongoing digitisation of construction – evidenced by growing adoption of collaborative Building Information Modelling (BIM) and of mobile solutions, plus increased use of sensors and ‘internet of things’ (IoT) – surely leads logically to the eventual digitisation of operation and maintenance and of facility management. I say “eventual” as, clearly, many FM colleagues will first need to inherit models and associated data created by designers and constructors (though, of course, there is also an opportunity for FM professionals to be in at the start, defining owner/operator’s information requirements so that project delivery concurrently creates the data they will need to manage the resulting built asset).

What will also be needed will be FM tools that can take relevant data from BIM and provide similarly agile cloud-based support for collaborative operation and maintenance processes, with built asset records routinely updated in real-time throughout the asset’s lifecycle. Many FM solutions tend to be traditional on-premise solutions (notable exceptions include Qube Global, and SWG’s QFM, while Planon includes a cloud service alternative), but to date I’ve seen few vendors actively marketing cloud-based BIM-to-FM solutions (though Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD cousin ArchiFM springs to mind). The market is therefore ripe for some SaaS disruption.

Enter Zuuse

So I was interested to hear from Australia-based SaaS FM startup Zuuse. This company, with offices in Brisbane and Melbourne, provides “an asset lifecycle solution blending 3D BIM capability, mobility and information management.”

Zuuse has also recently acquired another FM software company, BEIMS, further consolidating the Australian FM software market in the process (news release). According to Jason Lilienstein, Zuuse’s CEO:

Zuuse logo“The landscape is rapidly changing. There is a large, growing market that is traditionally underinvested. Total IT spend on facilities management worldwide is forecast to grow from $24.6b in 2014 to $43.7b in 2019. There is enormous opportunity in the existing, fragmented, market. Asset owners are demanding new and innovative ways to manage their buildings and infrastructure. There is currently no product in the market that spans the complete asset lifecycle. It’s populated by a myriad of fragmented products, producing silos of information that, whilst useful, do not deliver the building owner, as the ultimate client, what they need.”

Zuuse says it has brought these together in a suite of modules and mobile device apps that can provide standalone or fully integrated functionality. Customers can pick and choose what they need, all delivered on a simple pay-as-you-go SaaS basis. It says it is taking BIM into FM and with mobile apps allowing FM teams to perform everyday tasks easily in the field, with “ground breaking technology, including Zuuse Qube, a 3D visualisation and data app built on the Unity gaming platform” (another video; no connection with the afore-mentioned Qube Global).

BEIMS deal

BEIMS provides FM software to 120 customers and is used in over 15,000 buildings including hospitals, universities, airports and commercial buildings throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. Customers include Australian Red Cross, Mater Health, Monash University, Wellington Airport and Sky City Casino. Garry Busowsky, founder of BEIMS, says:

“By combining newer innovative offerings like Zuuse, with established solutions like BEIMS, customers can benefit from new world technology alongside the depth and solid reliability that comes with experience. This acquisition also gives our existing clients a clear pathway into new technologies with the reassurance that the functionality that they have grown to depend on is running at its core.”

 

* A note: In past years, I have reported regularly on iSite’s financial performance (most recently in September 2015). However, following changes to parent Styles & Wood’s reporting practices, iSite’s results are now reported alongside other businesses in “Portfolio Services”, so we now have less visibility of its performance.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/zuuse-targeting-bim-to-fm-opportunity/

Apr 23 2016

Combinder targets close-out documentation

Combinder is solely focused on close-out PDF documentation, providing an alternative to SaaS collaboration vendors offering O&M compilation tools as part of a wider system.

H&S FileThe compilation of operation and maintenance information for handover to the owner/operator of a built asset used to involve retrospective collation of large volumes of documentation, with much of the information duplicated across different sections, and often more than copy of the whole O&M manual needing to be delivered.

Early electronic O&M creation

Almost as soon as project teams began to deploy electronic document management systems or Software-as-a-Service ‘extranets’, they began to look at how these might additionally be deployed for handover information. In 2002, the UK’s BIW Technologies* (now Conject, recently acquired by Aconex) was one of the first SaaS vendors to develop functionality that allowed the concurrent compilation of the core element of UK handover documentation, the Health and Safety File.

Almost a decade later, in August 2011, Aconex entered into a partnership with Grazer, an Adelaide-based business specialising in the production and handover of post-construction O&M manuals for clients in Australasia. In June the following year, Aconex acquired Grazer, and in February 2013 launched Aconex Smart Manuals.

BIW/Conject and Aconex were not unique in providing O&M functionality – most of their AEC SaaS collaboration competitors have developed similar functionality. In addition, London construction consultancy Dome Consulting launched Dome Connect, extending the company’s expertise in commissioning management (post); Zutec also built on its O&M compilation expertise to develop a SaaS manuals capability (post); McLaren acquired CAFM Explorer in 2011 to give it a seamless design-to-FM offering (post); and in 2014, I talked to another UK-based provider, Edocuments (post).

Combinder

combinder logoIn short, this requirement is already being targeted by several SaaS technology vendors, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for others. I was recently contacted by Brenton Wiberg, a partner in California, US-based Combinder. He told me Combinder was ” founded on the pain that general contractors were having at project close-out and how to deal with the O&M Manual data.” He continued:

The traditional 20 binders full of printed cut sheets seemed, and rightfully so, archaic and unfriendly to the environment.  So contractors started providing this information on CDs or thumb drives.  Owners though didn’t seem to use this and still insisted on printed copies.  At some point the advent of “digital dashboards” came in to play which, when paired with an iPad, made the digital versions of the close-out documents much easier to use, but much trickier for the contractor to provide. This is where we stepped in for some generals, but a lot are using Bluebeam for this while others aren’t doing anything at all.

Combinder specialises in organising, hyperlinking, and indexing digital construction close-out documents into a clean, easy-to-use mobile interface, creating a hyperlinked PDF deliverable. It aims to “make it simple for construction managers to deliver LEAN digital operations and maintenance manuals and even simpler for facility managers to use those documents.”

And it makes a virtue of being economical: “There is no proprietary software or perpetual maintenance fees necessary to view your digital O&M, just our relatively small, onetime fee, making Combinder one of the cheapest options available” (pricing here).

[* Disclosure: I was an employee of BIW Technologies from 2000 to 2009. pwcom.co.uk has since undertaken consultancy work for Conject.]

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/combinder-targets-close-out-documentation/

Apr 01 2016

Rollout rolls-out PaperLight

Rollout logoTexas-based SaaS drawing management startup Rollout is branching out into collaboration hardware launching a portable interactive display system, PaperLight.

At the turn of the century, when most of the current crop of Software-as-a-Service construction collaboration technology vendors were just starting out, a common objection to the use of online systems was that users preferred paper – “It’s easier to gather round a drawing on a table and mark it up,” they would say. “You need to see the whole A0 drawing at full size to get the big picture.” Nonetheless, cloud-based, browser-accessed document and drawing collaboration rapidly became popular, particularly as it allowed comments and mark-ups to be shared rapidly across a frequently geographically dispersed, multi-disciplinary team.

But old habits die hard, and over the the years I have seen several organisations look to replicate the full-size drawing sharing and mark-up experience using technology:

  • Around ten years, I saw an early Thales/Surrey University prototype of a “Collaborative Working Environment”, subsequently launched as the Cereno nuVa (see May 2009 post) – a product still going strong.
  • In 2011, I looked at more immersive approaches to design collaboration at IdentityMine, and pondered about some of Microsoft’s early tabletop ‘Surface’ devices (later rebranded Microsoft Pixelsense – read this Wikipedia article).
  • And in 2014, Newforma acquired SmartUse, a mobile solution for viewing, marking up, auto-linking and sharing project plans, which also operates on a large, 55-inch touch screen.

PaperLight

Interactive whiteboard and projector systems are, of course, now widely used in many education and business settings, but are not easily portable. So Dallas, Texas, US-based Rollout has come up with its own solution: PaperLight – a touch-enabled projection display that connects to your computer (via a HDMI cable) so you can view full-size drawings digitally. Users can add mark-ups can with their fingertips and share them instantly with fellow project team members.

The 37” (940mm) table-top device weighs about 20lbs (9kg) and features a projector (‘telescope’) housed at the top of a mast that folds down for easy transportation, while the touchscreen is made of a durable and resilient plastic. Images can also be projected onto walls up to 11 feet (3.5m) away. The product can be used with any software (“you could even watch a movie on your PaperLight™ device!” – though Rollout is also providing two complimentary Rollout drawing management software licenses for two projects), and is currently being sold at a recommended retail price of US$5000. Rollout is also about to launch a crowdfund campaign to fund the product’s expansion, co-founder Alejandro Jacobo told me.

Rollout: intelligent markups and social collaboration

Rollout pricingRollout’s core product is a cloud-based construction drawing management application that enables construction teams to access and manage drawings from any device, helping them share mark-ups, revisions, comments and updates. The company was cofounded in 2013 by Jacobo and former Gilbane and Structuretone construction manager turned entrepreneur Matthew Hinson, and won several pitch contests in 2014 to help fund the product’s development.

Free to small projects (with up to three users), it has a simple per-project approach to licensing, based on an agreed number of initial users (move the slider, see the price) who then get (within reason) an unlimited amount of drawing storage and all features of the software; further users can be added for US$5 per user / month per project. Enterprise agreements are also negotiable. As with the early days of SaaS collaboration, the major benefits being sold relate to savings on paper production and distribution.

While the the application appears almost solely focused on drawing management, and allows users to filter items (by user, time and date), to track changes (again by user, time and date) and to collaborate in real-time, a detailed reading of the website suggests it can be used to share common process documents (punchlists, RFIs, etc) and photographs, with “intelligent markups” helping to navigate through the system.

I was also pleased to see that Rollout is not reliant on email, but acts like a social media application, with users tagged when something needs their attention and able to contribute via a comment stream (I have welcomed similar Web 2.0-style efforts to deploy social approaches to collaboration in the past – for example, Australia’s ProjectCentre, since acquired by RIB, was doing this five years ago [post], and Envision employs a similar approach – see my January 2016 post, Envision expanding capabilities).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/04/rollout-rolls-out-paperlight/

Mar 21 2016

Aconex acquires Conject – reaction

While Conject reassures its customers, competitors (past and present) react to Aconex’s acquisition of the Europe-based SaaS collaboration vendor.

ConjectAconex logo 2014After the 17 March 2016 announcement of Conject‘s acquisition by Aconex, the UK business’s managing director Steve Cooper sought to reassure the company’s SaaS construction collaboration customers and users about the business’s future. In an email (18 March), he says:

Steve CooperThe merging of Conject with Aconex creates a significant and positive development for our customers and users, wherever in the world they are located. Together with Aconex, we become a truly global provider:

  • Strong footholds in all of the world’s largest construction markets
  • Strong and proven teams in client service, sales and management
  • Product engineering teams that provide deep knowledge of market needs in areas like BIM, Cost Management and NEC Contracts
  • Ability to scale faster, innovate better and to support our largest customers wherever opportunity takes them

Whilst this marks a period of change, rest assured that we will continue to invest in and support existing Conject products and services.

Competitor reaction

I canvassed opinion among some of the competitors in the market. Tony Ryan, CEO at Asite said:

Tony Ryan (Asite CEO)Is it a game-changer? “It’s huge and has a very exciting outcome, but it was only a matter of time.  When Aconex raised their last round of funding they were expected to acquire.  I spoke with Leigh about this at the time – I’m just surprised it took so long.”

Challenges? “Management change, client reaction and obviously the headache of technology synergies and integration.  That’s assuming they keep the code and blend it. We’ve seen what happened to 4Projects recently.”

Valuation? “Totally undervalued.”

Steve Crompton, CTO at Business Collaborator said:

Stephen Crompton (GroupBC)“As one of the leading CDEs available, GroupBC is delighted to see that our once niche industry has matured to such an extent that acquisitions of this scale are now happening.
“It is a privilege to witness the continued growth and evolution within the sector we helped to create, and we await with interest the outcome of this union and wish both companies well.”

Former Conject CEO

Colin Smith, co-founder of BIW Technologies, and, for three years, CEO of Conject Holdings told me:

Colin Smith - Textura Europe“The deal set off some strong feelings. I founded BIW Technologies and was CEO of Conject for three years of intense change. It was a memorable experience and I retain many good friends among its colleagues and customers.

I always believed that one company would emerge as the dominant player. Of course, I originally hoped it would be BIW, but great credit to Leigh [Jasper] and Rob [Phillpot] for taking Aconex into that market leadership position. I think it’s great news for Conject customers and staff, and also a very good deal for Aconex, its customers, staff and shareholders. I can’t see any current vendor coming close to rivalling what the two combined businesses now offer.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/03/aconex-acquires-conject-industry-reacts/

Mar 18 2016

Go-Cam video snagging

Live-streaming video reports from site – Go-Cam looked interesting but ultimately disappointed. 

Mobile apps for construction snagging (aka: punchlisting, quality control, etc) have become common, taking advantage of smartphones’ and tablets’ in-built cameras to include a photograph of the defect as part of the report. A new app takes this one stage further, and suggests video as a potential site reporting tool.

Go-cam logoGo-Cam enables employees to live-stream field reports using their smartphones and tablet devices. It claims to be “the world’s first one-touch field reporting app, allowing users to live-stream video from the field and send out email and text alerts to nominated recipients.”

According to the news release I received, recipients follow a link to a report page where they can see field information including sender details, a location map, a time and date stamp and the live video. The report page is automatically archived for future reference, providing evidence to resolve disputes and verify compliance.

Go-Cam believes it has potential to revolutionise a multitude of industries. It says:

“Estate agents could use the tool to provide walk-through tours of properties, while construction firms would be able to film detailed on-site updates to pass onto engineers or architects. The insurance industry could leverage the app to enhance first-hand claims reporting for customers, while journalists would be able to use the app to film reports on location, saving them for a later date or live-streaming them to editors for instant feedback.

Tod Yeadon, founder of Go-Cam (seemingly a brand created by Newcastle-upon-Tyne company TxTrax Ltd), says:

“We believe we have a world-first in this fantastic new app, which has the ability to power highly informed decision-making in a multitude of industries. With one touch, users can stream video clips directly from their location, informing colleagues of issues in the field with clear, indisputable video evidence.

“Go-Cam can also be used to enhance compliance and prevent customer disputes – after all, the tech doesn’t lie! We’re already receiving reports from various different industries coming up with innovative ways to utilise Go-Cam, and we’re very excited to see what the future holds for this disruptive technology.”

White label

Go-Cam has also been designed to be white-labelled and re-branded by business clients, to function as the company’s very own app. The company says the technology can also be integrated into a business’ existing app, adding value with enhanced functionality. “Available at a fraction of the cost of a new app built, clients benefit from the stable, fully-developed app, with all back-end issues and updates taken care of by the Go-Cam team.”

The app is said to work anywhere that has a Wi-Fi or mobile network. In areas with no internet connection at all, it stores all reports to be sent at a later time, when a connection becomes available. Go-Cam is free for the first month of usage, and £3.99 per user per month after that. For business use, plainly there is a cost associated with providing the reporting platform and storage – Go-Cam invites prospective customers to request a quote.

Quick test

Go-Cam testI gave the tool a quick test, downloading the Android version of the app (v0.0.3) to my Samsung Galaxy S6. After entering some contact details and a password, I was able to film a short video (uploaded over my wifi) and then email a link to that video to an email address I own (strangely, it also offered the option of sharing the video to Facebook – a legacy, it appears, of a sister product called AngelCam). The email gave a location link but this only included half of the coordinates in the URL so the mapping didn’t work. Clicking on the video link opened up the video in my browser, but it was far from “clear” – it was tiny, and there was no obvious way to expand the image.

Nice idea, but my user experience as a recipient was poor, while I wonder if the sender will always have the benefit of wifi or a decent 3G or 4G connection? And – in a highly cost-conscious industry like construction – will the sender (or sender’s employer) also be prepared to pay for the necessary connectivity to share video from their mobile devices?

In its current form, I can’t see Go-Cam threatening existing construction defects reporting tools. They export considerable metadata as part of each defect report which helps with management reporting and tracking of the issue. GPS coordinates will not be sufficiently granular to distinguish between different locations within a single building. Disconnected from other project management tools, it’s just a point solution doing one thing – and, based on my experience, not doing that one thing particularly well. As my school reports used to say: could do better.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/03/go-cam-video-snagging/

Older posts «

Fetch more items