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An AI and observation-powered safety plan for construction and COVID-19

The United States is starting to emerge from lockdown, but it’s not the same world we left when we entered quarantine. SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is still out there, and it’s no less dangerous than it was before. So as we return to work, we can’t operate in the same way as we did prior to the pandemic. We have to take measures to ensure everyone can work safely and be able to demonstrate those measures to owners and other parties like state and local regulators.

Technology vendors are responding. Amazon, for example, has released a "Distance Assistant" that can be placed in high traffic areas to help people keep an appropriate distance in the workplace. The system superimposes circles on live video footage of individuals as they walk through the area. If their circles are green, people know they are safely six feet apart. If the circles are red, individuals are too close to one another.
It's a helpful tool for indoor workspaces, but our industry needs a solution that's designed specifically for construction. That's where Newmetrix (formerly Smartvid.io) comes in.

Newmetrix has created new functionality for our safety platform to help organizations reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on site and to document their efforts in as efficient a way as possible.  We do this in two ways: 1) By using AI to automatically measure compliance with social distancing and PPE use, including masks, and 2) By using our mobile application to capture all positive aspects of a COVID-19 program. Both are then automatically included in daily or weekly automatic reports and dashboards, streamlining the measurement and documentation of your COVID-19 response. Here’s how it works:  

Safety monitoring

With Newmetrix, you can conduct remote site walks any time you like without adding additional people to the jobsite, which could increase risk.  

Newmetrix can easily ingest site photos from just about any source, including Procore, Autodesk BIM 360, Oracle Aconex, Box, StructionSite and many more. Once it has these photos in the system, Vinnie, our AI, can detect more than 50 safety risks, including whether workers are practicing social distancing (i.e., are closer than six feet apart or in a group of more than 10) or are missing PPE like face masks or other coverings. 

Complete the program with observations and reports

It’s easy to set Newmetrix so that it creates an observation automatically when Vinnie identifies specific tags like “Missing face mask”.  Newmetrix also makes it simple for anyone on the jobsite to make a safety observation, complete with a photo, if desired. And these observations don’t focus just on observations of risk, but also on people doing the right thing, like your COVID-19 site activities (e.g., hand washing stations, temperature checking, and more). 

By logging these “Positive Observations” you can create a log of all of the correct practices that are happening on each of your sites. Additionally, these Observations can then be automatically included in a daily or weekly dashboard and/or report, like the one seen below, to document your program. This creates an automatic audit trail of your proper program implementation automatically, saving time for field teams and managers.

sample automatic report for COVID-19 programSample automatic report summarizing positive observations of COVID-19 program

Vinnie will then analyze all the data to search for trends, which can be tracked in Newmetrix or  PowerBI dashboards to track trends across projects.

Get alerts and reporting

Safety personnel can also easily set up a workflow that sends a daily report summary of all of the AI-generated and human-generated observations, as shown above. If you’d like real-time alerts, the observations that are automatically created from Vinnie can trigger immediate notifications (e.g., for lack of face mask wearing). 

It’s very important, though, to use this data appropriately, because if it’s used to nail people for non-compliance, the program will not be very effective. Instead, focus on positive compliance to drive behavior. Once you know which sites are at highest risk, you can provide additional training and look closely at the environment to determine the role it could be playing. Are wash stations too close together? Is there just a single, narrow pathway between two key areas? Shifting your perspective from punishment to prevention will make an enormous, positive difference in COVID-19 safety compliance.

We’ll face new risks on the jobsite, but by working together, we can mitigate them so that everyone can stay healthy and reduce the risk of project shut downs. If you’d like to know more about how Newmetrix can help you with your COVID-19 safety plan, get in touch.


Written by Dmitry Grenader

Dmitry Grenader heads up product management efforts at Newmetrix. He started his career as a software developer, but later joined the “dark side” of product management. A veteran of a startup scene, Dmitry has worked across four VC-backed startups in the Boston area. Most recently he led product management at Luminoso, an AI spinoff from MIT Media Lab focused on text analytics. Dmitry holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from Boston University. When he is not at work he… thinks about work.

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