Many entire industries are sheltering in place and working from home, but construction is one sector that is often referred to as ‘essential’, meaning that the workers have to continue on the job and do their best to maintain social distance. But new technology is right around the corner that may put workers at home, behind a desk.
"Even prior to the current pandemic," says Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace and an industry expert, "we were beginning to see wider adoption of digital tools on jobsites, including those that enable remote work, like photo documentation. It's likely that the situation we're in now will lead to an acceleration in the adoption of these types of technologies, but this is the direction that the industry was heading in regardless."
In the short term we won’t see virtual-reality-controlled robots swinging hammers, while the worker clicks a mouse, but we are seeing a shift toward bringing jobs that once were onsite into the office.
One company, OpenSpace, offers a photo documentation solution in which workers have cameras on their hardhats, and much in the same way that wearable technology can map a worker’s health, OpenSpace measures the scope, scale, and “health” of a jobsite.
"Similar to how telehealth will improve accessibility by bringing the doctor to the patient," says Kalanthini, "rather than the other way around, we believe that "tele-building" will soon take off to scale the expertise of our superintendents, project managers, inspectors, and foremen. If your captures of the site are high-quality, you can reduce the amount of in-person visits needed, saving time and money, as well as improving knowledge transfer."