Gary Ng is the Founder & CEO of viAct. Previously, Gary had been the Managing Director of 3D leading EFI Optitex fashion technology and senior management of the NASDAQ business listed in Stratasys technology. He had also been awarded worldwide number one in the president club as a regional country manager at Stratasys with the highest commercial growth of Y2Y at 85% in 2015. Being a building engineer and having worked in the construction sector for years; Gary was highly bothered by extremely low levels of technological adaptation in the sector, in spite of its ever-increasing demands of safety and productivity. And thus, being a tech-geek, Gary emerged as AIpreneur and started viAct in Hong Kong.
The issue of safety in construction is as old as the industry itself. Traditionally, the sector has been plagued with a huge number of fatalities taking place in the jobsites, making it even “one of the most dangerous industries”. Not only have this, even the productivity in construction also remained considerably stagnant over the past 25 years.
Being conventionally a labor-intensive industry, almost all the tasks in the construction industry are carried out manually, starting from labor work to monitoring, inspection, documentation, site visits, to name a few. However, manual means have their inherent loopholes, like they are time-consuming, erroneous, inefficient, and most importantly requires huge manpower. Although there have been immense technological advancements, yet the construction industry has been one with low technological adaptation. Such low technological adaptation and more-and-more reliance on manual methods have been one of the prime reasons behind safety risks, project fluxes and productivity issues in construction.
Fortunately, in recent times, the construction industry has been seeing some amount of technological adaptation. Advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet-of-Things (IoT), construction robotics and the like are making headway into the industry. Such advanced technologies have been playing a crucial role towards enhancing safety in construction as well as making construction sites productive.
How Automated AI Monitoring Can Create Safer Job Sites?
Automated Construction Monitoring through video analytics has brought about a new dawn to the industry. With AI in construction, companies are now able to uphold high degrees of safety compliances and productivity in construction jobsites. In viAct, we have been constantly striving to provide scenario-based vision intelligence solutions to the multifaceted challenges faced by the AEC industry. We have been constantly training out AI to provide extremely granular insights into the job sites by transforming vision into practical actions. Our Construction Management Software enables the construction companies to create safer job sites in the following ways.
- AI Navigation: viAct’s AI has been well-trained and tested to monitor and detect various safety non-compliances taking place in the construction jobsites. It is capable of undertaking autonomous and intelligent monitoring of various aspects of workers’ safety in construction, say, PPE Detection, Danger Zone Intrusion Detection, Confined Safe Work Safety, High-rise Work Safety Management and so on.
- Risk Anticipation & Management: Reducing risk is at the core of viAct. Autonomous construction jobsites monitoring and early detection of various safety risks like workers’ without (proper) PPE, or entering danger zones, or human-machine-object collision, and the like helps the construction firms to anticipate risks and take instant action to avoid it from taking place, thus help them manage safety risks.
- Real-time Alerts: Our AI Monitoring Solution has been equipped with an instant and automatic alert system that sends light & sound alerts in matter of seconds as soon as any safety non-compliance gets detected. Not only this, the alerts are also sent to the concerned remote stakeholders, via SMS, email or other instant messaging app. Thus, with viAct both the on-site as well as the remote stakeholders can remain updated about the happenings in their job sites.
Why is it essential for AI to be Responsible?
Although the use of advanced technologies like AI in construction has brought about multifaceted benefits to the industry, it has also opened doors for new challenges. In the ConTech ecosystem, huge amounts of user data are collected through vision intelligence in order to train AI for various scenarios. There have been many privacy issues reported in the past regarding privacy in construction. As stated in one of our recent research papers on Responsible AI, studies indicate that the construction industry is adapting to technology but is not prepared for its other side. A study conducted by IBM revealed that 74% of the construction-related organizations are not prepared for cyber-attacks and do not have an incident response plan in place. The study conducted by Safety Detectives revealed that the construction industry was the third most common industry to have experienced ransomware attacks in the year 2021. The 2020 Forster survey revealed that 75% of the respondents in the construction, engineering and infrastructure industries have experienced cyber-incident in the year 2019. Thus, AI practices must be in line with legal and privacy concerns.
In recent times, data protection and privacy concerns have been at the top of the mind of all. Governments of different countries have been bringing up stringent data protection laws and therefore it has become increasingly necessary to balance AI and big data with data protection laws like the GDPR.
We at viAct highly believe that privacy of data cannot be compromised at any cost and have therefore taken several measures to ensure that our AI does not merely help the AEC industry to ensure safety in their job sites; rather it does so in a responsible manner. The following are a few steps undertaken at viAct to make our AI a Responsible AI:
- We always ensure that the data that has been collected is only used for the purpose of personal safety and can only be accessed by employees who need it;
- We generally mask out the human faces on the dashboard so as to ensure that the identity of the person doesn’t get revealed;
- We encrypt the data with advanced machine learning technology; and
- We store the data in a high security cloud like AWS, thus, ensuring greater safety of clients’ data.
Thus, to sum up, safety in its truest sense can be ensured only when risks from all directions – be it from job site accidents or from privacy and cyber-attack – are mitigated, and for this it is crucial for the AI to not just work, but work responsibly. Most AI-based applications are built on the foundation of deep learning methods. In the ConTech ecosystem, large scale user data are collected through vision intelligence which is proportionally used for training the AI for various scenarios. Thus, massive data collection is a prime necessity for deep learning which accompanies inevitable privacy issues. Highly sensitive user data such as photos and videos are indefinitely with the companies which collect them and users cannot delete it or restrict its usability. Thus, vision intelligence powered AI which is popularly used in the ConTech ecosystem are potentially subject to legal and privacy matters. GDPR regulations are stringent in this sector because with the inclusion of AI in the construction sector there is a rise in risks such as privacy damage, cyber risk, risk of overreliance on technology etc. So, like a safety officer needs to be responsible along with being vigilant, time has come when AI needs to be built smartly enough to be accurate as well as responsible.