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Digitalisation will aid construction companies in keeping to safe distancing rules onsite

TO facilitate the ease of meeting safe distancing measures put in place at construction sites as a result of Covid-19, JTC Corporation has been testing out various technologies that will help employers and workers alike.

They include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) cameras, facial recognition and thermal scanners, and a bluetooth dongle.

The bluetooth dongle, which is a wearable device, ensures that workers stand at least one metre apart from each other, and will beep if they do not. Facial recognition and thermal scanners, installed at entrances of worksites, are used for identification purposes and for temperature-measuring.

AI cameras will allow employers to monitor the conditions on the ground and can also identify areas within the worksite that tend to get overcrowded. This allows employers to then make necessary adjustments to reduce the number of workers in the respective zones.

Pilot testing for the devices began since the end of June at three of JTC’s worksites - JTC Logistics Hub, Kranji Green and Punggol Digital District.

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Along with the implementation of these new technologies, pilot testing of a new online platform developed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and construction tech startup Hubble, has been ongoing concurrently at the three JTC sites.

Named the BuildSG-CovidSafe platform (CSP), employers can access information about their workers, such as their clearance statuses and work permit details, using the platform.

Additionally, CSP also receives data from devices that have been installed on construction sites, such as the AI cameras and facial recognition and thermal scanners.

“The CSP ... will be the single source of information for all construction Covid-19 related matters. (It) is integrated to other government databases ... to help streamline command and control of workforces and worksites,” said a BCA factsheet.

At a media briefing on Thursday, BCA’s chief technology officer Liong Yuen Ming said the platform is currently running in pilot phase with 44 firms on the ground.

JTC director of building projects Wong Wei Loong said of CSP: “This is a very good platform that has integrated everything together … It actually allows us more data transparency, and with that, it enables us to manage the workers much better.

“If we are able to manage the workers, we are able to manage the work progress on the construction site as well.”

As for the technological devices being tested at the JTC sites, he said that JTC will be “monitoring the pilot over the next few months to scale up gradually and safely”.

In the case of CSP, BCA hopes to roll the platform out to the rest of the industry by the end of the month.

BCA’s Mr Liong added that the agency is also “looking at coming up with a support package to help the firms to adopt (CSP), or at least defray some of the front end costs”, and details will be announced at a later date.

In addition, for firms which have been slow to incorporate technology in their operations and are “not familiar with the digital solution”, Mr Liong said that “nearly a handheld process will need to take place”, so as to “guide them along” and reduce the “anxiety of adopting such systems”.

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