If you could foresee construction problems, wouldn’t you prevent them from happening? In the 2002 film “Minority Report,” police use the foreknowledge of psychics called “precogs” to predict and preemptively stop crimes. In the real world of 2023, industry consultant VIATechnik and design-builder Haskell’s venture arm, Dysruptek, have left out the psychics and are instead predicting and preventing construction problems based on contractors’ own work, including 40 years of lessons learned from Haskell’s projects and the past projects of VIATechnik’s VDC services team.
“You’ve learned something on one project, let’s go take that information, that learning to the next project before you even have the problem,” said VIATechnik CEO Danielle Dy Buncio. The result is Precogs, a cloud-based project information repository that uses the methods of large organizations such as NASA and the U.S. military to inform construction decisions. NASA in particular has a large database of organization-wide lessons that help drive its major projects even today, such as the ongoing Artemis program.
“We created a tool that would help us retain knowledge as a services business,” says Kyle Hudson, vice president of operations at VIATechnik in Chicago. “As we started using the application ourselves and exposing our clients to it, we recognized a broader need to improve knowledge retention.”
Dysruptek was already working along similar lines. As an early adopter of Precogs, Haskell and Dysruptek were a crucial partner in guiding the product road map and worked with VIATechnik to ensure that the long-term vision for the platform was viable and suitable for a larger market.
Contractors can view digital checklists for potential project issues.
Screenshot courtesy of VIATechnik and Haskell
Hamzah Shanbari, Haskell’s director of innovation, says that for years the Jacksonville, Fla.-based design-builder’s quality team manually catalogued project lessons it learned. This approach kept that knowledge within each project. Dysruptek held an internal innovation pitch contest and one entry took those project lessons company-wide in 2021, storing them in a methodical, searchable way. It was the runaway winner, with all executives on board. “We’re not a software company,” Shanbari says. “We started talking to developers, and we’d been working with VIATechnik on some other projects and they had a similar project.”
After two years and 6,000 hours of development, Shanbari, Hudson and their teams were able to make Precogs into a platform that kept beta customers informed with lessons, checklists and predictive analysis about their projects. All the lessons are attributed by CSI MasterFormat codes, discipline and other metadata. Hudson says a user can ask Precogs about lessons pertaining to their work, or receive checklist recommendations based on their project type. As of today, Hudson says, the platform’s intelligent matching can look at a project’s type and offer intelligent suggestions for lessons or checklists.
“We anticipate there being a schedule intake feature, where it brings in a schedule,” Hudson says. So when concrete delivery shows up in your five-day plan, it will bring up lessons related to concrete.
Precogs can create dashboards that both analyze performance and recommend checklists for specific project areas such as onboarding and safety. The platform includes a Revit Connector, Procore Connector, and SharePoint connector for pushing and pulling insights between the various third-party tools contractors use.
Precogs is available as an annual subscription. That includes a number of projects, a number of users and access to the plugins. Each customer has their own unique subdomain for their projects. Hudson adds that there’s a future opportunity to aggregate and anonymize project data across subdomains and offer more opportunities to avert problems.