Why we are now Newmetrix

    Newmetrix. Reducing Risk. Intelligently

    By now, you’ve probably heard the news. Smartvid.io has a new name: Newmetrix. I’d like to explain here, in a less formal format than a press release, why we thought the Newmetrix name is a better fit for our company. After all, it was a big move.

    But before I go too deeply into why, let’s take a quick look back at Newmetrix’ origins. It’ll help show that, far from reflecting a change in our mission, the new name is a much better reflection of our original goal.

    In 2014, I was talking to many of our customers from the former construction field management software company Vela Systems, from CIOs to field superintendents, about what challenges they were now facing every day. What struck me was the amount of data that construction companies now had to manage, from photos and videos to information in construction management and financial systems that was stuck in “data silos” and not combined.

    Hearing them talk about their challenges I felt partially responsible for creating this digital deluge, since field management applications like Vela Systems had increasingly moved Quality, Safety, Commissioning and other paper-intensive field processes to tablet PCs and then the iPad over the previous decade (ok, that last sentence makes me feel old). The industry was now sitting on piles of data, albeit stuck in different systems, and new data sources such as images and videos were becoming available all the time as mobile devices continued to proliferate on jobsites.

    But very little of all of this data was being put to work. At the same time, AI was gaining traction in many industries, from manufacturing to healthcare. There was so much potential to combine the two in a number of different ways.

    And that potential is always an issue for any startup. You can’t do everything. You have to choose one problem on which to focus, and, once you’ve proven yourself, expand to address other challenges.

    Image analytics and safety stood out to us as the application where AI could have the largest impact in the shortest amount of time. The industry’s serious injury and fatality rate hadn’t improved since 2008, and reducing the risk of people getting hurt or killed on the job could make an enormous difference to companies, workers, and their families and friends.

    Vinnie — More than a computer vision AI

    Our early team built an AI that we affectionately nicknamed Vinnie, and, like all AI, it had to be trained. In Vinnie’s case, this meant many thousands of hours analyzing construction-specific photos to teach it how to recognize people, hazards and context.

    Today, Vinnie has more than a hundred tags that it can apply to an image, from guardrail, ladder, PPE and scaffolding issues, to even more difficult to detect ergonomic hazards such as chronic improper body positioning and machine equipment personnel interface (MEPI) dangers.

    But we saw that Vinnie needed to do more than analyze images. Ultimately the goal was to reduce risk, not to pursue a specific technology. The engineering team incorporated predictive analytics, which can derive insights from a wealth of other data: payroll, safety observations, incidents, even weather information. To date, Vinnie has been trained on twelve and a half centuries of incident data.

    A giant reduction in risk

    The upshot is this: Newmetrix can now identify the 20% of projects that will have 80% of incidents, every single week. Even more powerfully, Vinnie provides actions that management can take on those high-risk sites to reduce risk, preventing incidents before they occur.

    As a result, our customers have been able to:

    • Reduce their recordable incident rate by up to 40%;
    • Negotiate better rates from their insurers because they could prove they were a lower risk; and
    • Quadruple the number of safety observations and significantly increase the number of safety conversations on site;

    We saw that image analytics was just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other data sources and risks that AI and predictive analytics can tackle. And that’s why we changed our name. Newmetrix reflects how our company is using AI and analytics to identify new metrics that are predictors of risk, whether they involve photos, video, observations, manpower, payroll, weather, or any other potential predictor. We help to pull that data out of the silos and combine it in ways that enable new views of risk.

    We’re proud of our track record in safety, and we have big things planned that will move the needle even further. As more and more digital data can be gleaned from the jobsite, there are many more metrics to come. As we all learn to use this data, the result is safer jobsites, lower risk, and better project outcomes for the industry overall.

    Want to learn more about Newmetrix?

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    Written by Josh Kanner

    Josh Kanner has been involved in enterprise-focused software startups since 2000 with a focus in the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry since 2005.

    Most recently he was co-founder of Vela Systems, a pioneer in the use of web and tablet workflows for construction and capital projects. There he led the company’s product, marketing, and business development functions. Vela Systems grew from bootstrapped beginnings to include over 50% of the ENR Top Contractors as customers and deployments all over the globe. The company was successfully acquired by Autodesk in 2012 and has been rebranded as BIM 360 Field.

    Prior to founding Vela Systems, Josh was responsible for product management and strategy at Emptoris (now part of IBM), a web-based strategic sourcing software company with customers including Motorola, GlaxoSmithKline, Bank of America, and American Express.

    Kanner graduated from Brown University and earned an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He still gets excited to put on a hard hat and walk a job.

    View more posts by Josh Kanner.

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