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Winvic uses AI to predict and prevent accidents

21 Sep 20 Winvic Construction is trialling new technology that uses smart cameras to detect safety hazards on site.

Cameras and software monitor sites for potential hazards
Cameras and software monitor sites for potential hazards

In the 2002 sci-fi movie Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s policeman character is able to see crimes before they are committed and arrest murderers before anyone gets killed.

For Winvic, the future is using artificial intelligence (AI) to spot construction site accidents before anyone gets hurt.

Winvic is working on the government-funded project with the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) Big Data Enterprise & Artificial Intelligence Lab (Big-DEAL) and Bristol industrial intelligent video specialists One Big Circle.

Their project uses real-time images and machine learning technologies to detect, recognise and track hazards on a construction site, which will then alert nearby operatives via Internet of Things enabled, global positioning system (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 thanks to a £600,000  grant from Innovate UK.

The technology relies on site cameras continuously capture video images.Hazards are identified via artificial intelligence (AI) – including moving heavy machinery, working at height of lack of correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

Over the length of the project the machines will ‘learn’ and get better at making intelligent predictions, the developers say.

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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 an alert, via an app on a wearable or mobile device. Managers can also review alerts and relevant video segments from a laptop-based app. Where an operative is identified not wearing appropriate PPE, both the individual and their manager will be alerted to the issue.

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 said: “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, associate professor at UWE Bristol and principal investigator, said: “This Computer-Vision-SMART project will enable us at the Big Data Enterprise & 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.”

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