Winvic, the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and One Big Circle Consortium secure Innovate UK Funding for Computer-Vision-SMART
Winvic Construction Ltd, a leading main contractor that specialises in the design and delivery of multi-sector construction and civil engineering projects, is working on a second Innovate UK funded project, which aims to keep site staff even safer; the three organisations involved will together leverage the latest real-time image and machine learning technologies to detect, recognise and track hazards on a construction site, which will then alert nearby operatives via IoT enabled, GPS devices.
Dubbed as Computer-Vision-SMART, the ‘Computer Vision and IoT for Personalised Site Monitoring Analytics in Real Time’ project will run for two years. The Big Data Enterprise and Artificial Intelligence Lab (Big-DEAL) at UWE Bristol, and Bristol industrial intelligent video specialists One Big Circle are the two other organisations in the consortium that were successful in their application for an Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency – Smart Grant. They will share the £600,000 research pot with Winvic. Smart grant is the new name for Innovate UK’s ‘Open Grant Funding’ programme. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas through its ‘Open Grant Funding’ programme.
How the Technology Works
- Interior and exterior site cameras will continuously capture video images.
- Via Artificial Intelligence (AI), any hazards – from moving heavy machinery to overhead works to people operating without the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – will be identified.
- Over the length of this project the machine learning models will be able to make an increasing number of intelligent predictions over the time of the project.
- Safe space radii, or zones, will be predetermined and applied to each hazard.
- Exact operator and hazard locations are understood through a geographic information system (GIS).
- When an operator enters a hazard zone, the individual – and when appropriate other members of the site team – will receive a personal alert via an app on a wearable or mobile device. Managers can also review alerts and relevant video segments from a laptop-based app.
- In the event of an operator being identified of not wearing appropriate PPE, the person and Project Manager will be alerted of the issue.
Each hazard radii will comprise four zones (SAFE):
- Safe: a site worker is in a safe location and won’t receive an alert;
- Alert: a site worker is alerted to a possible risk;
- Full alert: a site worker receives a consistent alert;
- Escalate: there is a site wide alert of an immediate health and safety concern.
The Requirement for Innovation
A clear need for the development and widespread use of digital technologies within construction health and safety was identified:
- Existing vision-based approaches to construction site monitoring only focus on areas such as site security, dispute avoidance and time-lapse project progress, and applications to improve people’s safety are lacking.
- Furthermore, HSEQ managers and operatives depend on self-reporting or warnings from co-workers, which can simply come too late to avoid an incident.
- Consequently to achieve a zero-harm target, health and safety best practice must be reimagined utilising effective digitisation alongside appropriate social interventions; delivering a solution where social and technical systems overlap.
Two Winvic project sites will take part in the initiative to develop the technology over the 24-month period.
UWE Bristol and Winvic are also partners on the Conversational BIM Project; another AI-enabled development to create a voice activated, BIM model connected headset, which will allow users to retrieve any and all project design and construction information with a simple vocal request.
Tim Reeve, Winvic’s Technical Director is leading the Computer-Vision-SMART project on the main contractor’s team. He commented: “Utilising intelligent digital technologies in construction to deliver projects more rapidly, cost-effectively and safely is a passion of Winvic’s and this forward-thinking health and safety initiative is truly ground-breaking. It’s a privilege to be working with UWE Bristol on a second AI-enabled project, and with One Big Circle also on-board, we have a very dedicated and eager consortium team. There is a clear gap in this area of construction safety, where social and technical efforts can successfully converge, and with the solution that has been conceived will come better opportunities than ever before to reach our zero-harm aim. It’s a very exciting time in the world of digital transformation, and our achievements over the next two years will generate a significant leap forward for safety across the whole of the construction industry.”
Olugbenga Akinade, an Associate Professor at UWE Bristol and Principal Investigator, said: “This Computer-Vision-SMART project will enable us at the Big Data Enterprise and Artificial Intelligence Lab to employ our expertise in computer vision and sensor fusion technologies to improve safety on construction sites. The project is pivotal to our strategy to push the frontiers of construction research and to address industrial needs using innovative digital technologies.
“The Innovate UK Smart grant provides us with a unique partnership opportunity with Winvic and One Big Circle to address a unique gap in the construction industry. We are convinced that Computer-Vision-SMART will deliver a step-change which will enable us to explore the socio-technical overlap of behaviour-based safety on construction sites. The project will further mature our capabilities in delivering high impact research and to establish UWE Bristol as a business-facing university.”
Founder and Director of One Big Circle, Emily Kent, added: “As specialists in intelligent video and integration our purpose is to provide digital video solutions to real world challenges, especially in industrial environments, thereby increasing safety and enhancing operations. The power of a collaboration such as the Computer-Vision-SMART group means we can steer our video and computer vision expertise according to industrial need, working closely with others who are also experts in their own fields. We have been successful with this approach in highways and rail previously and are very excited about working alongside Winvic and UWE in delivering this advanced capability in the construction industry.”
For more information on One Big Circle, please visit https://onebigcircle.co.uk/ and click here for more information on the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).