When the COVID-19 pandemic first spread across the U.S. earlier this year, construction sites saw a raft of new safety procedures to ensure essential work could continue without casually spreading the virus. Construction’s safety culture adapted to include mandatory face masks, social distancing and more glove wearing for workers on site.
Safety personnel try to enforce these rules, but measuring compliance can be tricky. That’s when AI-based image analysis firm Smartvid.io turned its system to more than just traditional analysis. Its AI tool can spot gloves and masks, and it defines social distancing as 6 ft between workers or groups of less than 10. Able to scan through thousands of videos and images of the site to categorize exactly what is going on, Smartvid’s AI soon was able to see trends among over 40,000 construction workers nationally.
“When we first started running analytics, there were marked differences in different regions, particularly for social distancing and mask-wearing,” says Josh Kanner, Smartvid.io founder and CEO. “Now six months later, all regions of the country are at a pretty high level of COVID compliance and behavior.”
While it is only a rough correlation, Smartvid.io’s regional trends for pandemic safety compliance on site do seem to follow outbreaks of the virus. The northeastern U.S. had seen fairly high compliance by early summer, while jobsites in southern states didn’t see a rise in social distancing until the late summer months.
“The data shows that all regions have trended in a positive way and converged at a pretty consistent, high level of social distancing and mask-wearing,” says Kanner. “At this point, all regions [of the U.S.] seem to be taking it seriously. Which is consistent with what we’re hearing anecdotally. After all, if you get a COVID outbreak, you get shut down.”
Smartvid.io initially developed and deployed its COVID-related safety observations as a side project in the spring (ENR.com 4/3/20), but has since linked it into the general safety reports that the AI system generates, Kanner says.
The company also recently completed a funding round, raising $5 million. One of its latest investors is the Sony Innovation Fund, the investment arm of technology giant Sony. According to SIF, this is its first investment in an AEC-related company, although it has previously invested in industrial AI technologies.