One startup, one story: what if construction sites could be monitored by smartphone?

How task management software is making major building projects easier to master. Let’s meet BulldozAIR.

‘On time and on budget’ is a mantra too frequently missed on construction projects – from major endeavors such as Edinburgh’s tram system or India’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games, to minor house-building jobs. One reason, Ali El Hariri reasoned, is the difficulty in monitoring the myriad of tasks involved.

Before launching BulldozAIR, Ali was a manager at French construction giant Bouygues. Frustrated by the amount of time he wasted going back on site to manage tasks that could have easily been solved remotely, Ali decided there had to be a better way of monitoring projects.

He studied a variety of management tools, but none of them were able to cope with the hundreds of thousands of tasks on an average project – not to mention the time it would take to report them (and go through written accounts with varying degrees of legibility). Construction sites are also hierarchical places, so questions arose over who should report and to whom.

Ali teamed up with software engineer Maxence Lerigner, and together they sought a digital solution that would reduce the need for site visits and make monitoring easier.

The first priority was making the information legible and easy to understand. Ali and Maxence designed BulldozAIR to collect photos taken onsite, which could then be annotated. Visual information communicated this way is easier to follow, and can replace huge quantities of text.

Of course, it can be difficult to visualize the exact location of a picture – but BulldozAIR makes it easy by tagging each one. Indoor localization is determined by PDF or image plans, while outdoor locations are tracked with Google Maps. Each picture is stored on a timeline, enabling managers to track the progress of a task up to fulfilment.

Another innovation – revolutionary on a construction site – is centralizing the reporting. Instead of various cabals jealously hoarding information, everyone in a team can call up crucial information such as due dates, project notes and any other technical documentation already uploaded. Tasks can be classified, ordered and filtered, and assigned a priority or status.

Data can be entered from any device, whether on– or off-line and on multiple platforms. It is stored in the cloud, with easyto- monitor access and privacy controls.

Of course, sometimes there simply isn’t time to input all the data, and so BulldozAIR seeks to automate as many tasks as possible. One of these is the crucial daily task sheet. Each morning, every team member receives automatically generated individual to-do lists in their inbox. Customized reports are also easy – just a matter of a few clicks.

BulldozAIR has been designed by active construction and software engineers. It has proved so popular that the company has already branched out of construction into transport, energy and retail. Clients include construction giants Vinci, Bouygues, and Eiffage, French National Railway Company SNCF, energy majors Total SA and Air Liquide, and global retailing heavyweights Carrefour SA and Lidl.

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