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Worksite kiosk designed to improve communication

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by Richard Gilbert

A research team from the University of Calgary is launching a small start-up company to produce and sell a kiosk, which could improve information management and communication on construction sites.
Worksite kiosk designed to improve communication

A research team from the University of Calgary is launching a small start-up company to produce and sell a kiosk, which could improve information management and communication on construction sites.

“There is a need for the i-Booth and potential clients that are interested in using the kiosk on their jobsites,” said Janaka Ruwanpura, professor in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary.

“We will commercialize the product in September or October...”

The university’s productivity research team recently launched the second generation i-Booth.

It is designed to improve information integration between the office and jobsite, as well as on-site communication between workers.

The kiosk has a large multi-touch high-definition display and the latest advancements in distributed data warehousing and security technologies.

There are two versions of the information kiosk – a mobile and a wall-mounted version. They both include design drawings, shop drawings, safety instructions, specifications, BIM or three-dimensional models of assigned work, certifications, weather forecasts, maps and productivity targets.

The system handles information in many different formats, including PDFs, design web format (DWF), BIM (NWC) and video files.

“We are establishing a new company, which includes everyone who was involved in the development of the information booth,” said Ruwanpura.

“The paperwork for incorporation is in the process of being completed. We will operate as a virtual company, with everybody keeping their day jobs. We will expand the company in the future if the demand is there.”

The i-Booth was designed by Ph.D. candidate Lahiru Silva and the information software framework was designed by research associate Kamal Ranaweera. It can run on Windows, Apple and Android platforms, which are integrated into the software platform.

The system enables contractors to create dynamic work packages that can be updated automatically in real time.

The research team launched the second generation i-Booth on April 18.

The kiosk was tested at the SAIT Polytechnic Trade and Technology Complex with PCL Management Inc. throughout 2011. Various iterations of the booth have been used on construction projects since 2009.

Initially, researchers developed the information booth to assist foremen with communicating work targets, technical details and expectations to workers at morning toolbox meetings.

A prototype, which used an LCD projector and a laptop, was introduced to construction sites as a pilot project in 2006 and 2007. The initial testing of the system was conducted at the Rockyview General Hospital parkade constructed by CANA Management Ltd.

These tests resulted in a 10 per cent increase in tool time, a 17 per cent boost in productivity and more than a 70 per cent jump in worker satisfaction. After getting feedback from workers and supervisory staff, the research team assembled a real kiosk for more field testing.

The productivity research project was funded by CANA, EllisDon, Graham, Ledcor, Stuart Olson Dominion, Revay & Associates, the Calgary Construction Association, the City of Edmonton, Lafarge and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Ruwanpura has been involved in a Canadian Construction Productivity Improvement research project at the University of Calgary since 2003.

He has developed best practices and tools that have been successfully implemented in the construction industry for productivity improvement, project planning, risk management, decision analysis and sustainability.

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