Suffolk Construction Co., Boston, is developing artificial intelligence tools that can analyze photos from job sites to identify risks and prevent worker injuries, according to www.constructiondive.com.
The algorithm being developed scans job sites for safety hazards such as workers not wearing protective equipment and correlates the images with its accident records. There also is potential to detect ladders and scaffolding, which could prevent falls.
Suffolk Construction estimates these new digital tools could help increase productivity by 14 to 20 percent in a few years. Construction firms could increase productivity by as much as 50 percent through real-time analysis of data.
"The industry desperately needs this type of capability," said James Benham, CEO of JBKnowledge, a software and consulting firm that conducts an annual global survey on construction technology. "It can help people make better decisions and shave weeks to months off their project schedules."
Construction firms generate a lot of data from field reports and job-site photos to supplier contracts and inspection records, which can be hard to gather and share.
Companies within the construction industry are starting to invest in technology. Benham estimates about 20 construction firms in the U.S. have launched a data science initiative in recent years.