With construction errors and disputes often traced to the disconnect between the jobsite and the office, technology providers are eager to bridge that gap. Bentley Systems, known for its 4D design and operational software, is moving deeper into the jobsite with its field-focused Synchro platform. That effort has led to Bentley’s acquisition of photo- and audio-logging app maker NoteVault, a tool aimed at site personnel.

Announced June 3, the acquisition marks a renewed effort by Bentley to bring more direct field observations into a largely model-driven data approach. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We developed the Synchro field app because construction happens in the field, and capturing information in the field helps accelerate our plan to deliver field-management workflows,” says Rich Humphrey, vice president of construction at Bentley Systems. “There was a lack of a real good daily log solution for the foreman to track crews and time against work performed. What the NoteVault team has done is push forward the user experience in terms of how data is captured, focusing on photo and audio first.”

NoteVault’s platform is based around smartphone photos with voice-based annotations, allowing inspectors, site superintendents and other site workers to quickly make audio logs of site conditions as they find them. Bentley plans to integrate NoteVault into its Synchro platform, while maintaining it as a stand-alone app. There are no immediate plans to change the pricing of NoteVault for users.

“Everything we can do with this is exciting, there’s no shortage of opportunity,” says Peter Lasensky, founder and CEO of NoteVault. “As we build this integration into the Synchro platform, we can populate daily reports with inspections—labor and equipment can be tagged to work breakdown structures. You’ll be able to pick a schedule task and see all the notes and issues.” NoteVault may also find a new user base in the heavy civil sector, where Bentley is widely used.

Taking voice-based annotations from NoteVault and pairing them with not only construction schedule tasks but also the actual design elements of the 4D building model is just one new feature on the road map for Synchro, says Humphrey.

“Right now we plan to add a Synchro cost module to fill out our workflows,” he says. “We’re expanding 4D modeling and field management, model-based quantity takeoff as well. We have a pretty ambitious portfolio we are building out with clear workflows, all in the cloud.”