These days it seems the influence of the masses is having a tremendous impact on technology. The term “crowdsourcing” seems to be most often associated with helping start-ups get off the ground, but it also speaks to an underlying trend in technology where the direction of applications is dictated by the majority of users.
That concept seems to be permeating construction technology as well. This trend speaks to both the macro level for technology adoption, e.g., collaboration and information management; as well as to specific applications—more on that in a bit.
First to the larger trend. Speaking to the trend of content management, Jay Haladay, president, Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore., told Constructech, “Effective information management is demanding more and more collaboration between project stakeholders relative to this data. As a result, data needs to be shared within organizations and across companies, on different applications (from desktop to tablet to mobile) and delivered in a way that viewing/editing rights and proper workflow parameters are established.”
Such advice still holds true today in the current technology landscape. Given the rate at which collaboration is occurring and the fact more and more content is being generated and shared via cloud-based systems, the influence of many still holds great weight in determining the flow of information in this industry. In a way this can be seen as indirect crowdsourcing, if you will.
A much more literal sense of the term is being used by NoteVault, www.notevault.com, San Diego, Calif., with the release of its NoteVault Safety application earlier this month. Through a service the company calls CrowdSource Safety, the application is designed to help construction companies document safety observations faster and in greater detail using voice-based reporting observations and alerts.
The crowdsource aspect comes to light via the ability for companies to have the entire project team report safety observations, not just the safety inspectors. According to NoteVault, by having everyone on the team actively participate in safety observations it reduces risk with the idea that issues are identified and rectified quicker than with traditional methods. Key to such observations is the fact NoteVault assures time and location stamped documentation of the observed risk and its resolution.
Such a process as safety seems ideally suited for the idea of crowdsourcing. It begs the question, what other construction-related processes might be aided by such a concept, as well as raises some debate as to whether or not one too many voices in the process can actually help or hinder the process. Only time will tell.