There's an app for that

14 January 2014

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has had a significant impact on the way we work, with the management of health and safety being no exception. Health & Safety Matters talks to safety APP specialist Seeable Safety, a sister company of the Severn Partnership, who says their APPs are transforming the way risk is communicated.

Many safety briefings, training courses and site inductions are paper heavy and try to communicate risks through descriptive text. When trying to explain the risks of working in a complex 3D environment with active plant, walkways, ladders, hot works and overhead movement - can it be done by words alone?

How can an APP help?

Seeable's APPs are designed to communicate complex 3D environments by exploring the virtual model in 3D.  Seeable believes a 3D world cannot truly be explained on a 2D plan, whereas their APPs can offer ‘situational awareness’, allowing employees to visit a site virtually, before they get there and giving them the opportunity to see the reality before they have to experience it. The APPs can be used to demonstrate what constitutes poor behavioural safety or simply to illustrate routes to safe zones and call points.

"Imagine being able to click on parts of a 3D model to identify them and their risks/properties. Viewing a high resolution panoramic image to see the reality of the situation you will be expected to work in. Walking virtually around the environment you will be expected to work in and seeing safety exclusion zones, areas of high risk and being able to access safety data linked to the 3D objects," suggests Nick Blenkarn, partner of Seeable.

"One tap on the APP and you are in; a swipe of the finger and you are navigating around. In tailoring the content to your specific site, factory or working environment, Seeable can build in safe working zones, attribute information, panoramic images, videos, website links, technical PDFs and more.

"We have developed our Safety APPs to be easily accessed by non technical staff, created bespoke to your specific needs; communicating risks and visualising hazardous environments in an engaging and interactive way."

Where does the 3D data come from?

This 3D data can be liberated from FM, design and Building Information Modelling (BIM) teams. Allowing access to site workers or board directors who cannot operate complex CAD or BIM software, SEEABLE will make important asset information visible to a greater number of people.

Where no 3D data exists, Seeable can use ‘reality capture’ to a few ‘mm’ by 3D laser scanning technology to accurately map dangerous environments. Seeable has already been used to create an accurate 3D model of a live electrical transformer from a distance of 100m, and on active construction sites without endangering surveyors or disruption operations. The railway industry is one of many that is set to benefit from 3D briefings of potentially dangerous working environments, as could large factories or industrial plants.

Using the latest rapid hand held laser scanners, Seeable has the ability to capture the 3D dimensions of a room in under five seconds - walk in and walk out, minimising disturbance and generating the source data from which the 3D Seeable APP can be used to accurately reproduce site conditions.

Is it just a 3D model?

Seeable hosts 3D data in a games engine app and then augments it with information, images and interactive features to communicate in an intuitive, non-technical manner. By reusing BIM data and repurposing it for safety briefings, marketing purposes and client/user visualisation, executives will be able to visit a site virtually from their desktop, without requiring complex BIM software knowledge.

Explaining how the new venture came to fruition, Nick says: "At the Severn Partnership we used to see all the effort going in to creating 3D models and BIMs for them just to reside with design teams and facilities managers in some form. Much of this work required high-end technical software, or model viewers aimed at design teams”.

Seeable hosts 3D data in a serious games environment, creating APPs which are then sent to mobile, tablet, PC, Mac or the web. The APPs allow users to explore or examine the 3D environment and use the principles of experiential learning to communicate risks and visualise complex 3D environments.

Nick continues: "Our aim is to make real or virtual asset information visible and accessible to as wide an audience as possible, and through integrating our services from Severn Partnership and Seeable we are making this aim a reality. The data we are providing to businesses can be put to a variety of uses from health and safety and design visualisation, through to training and marketing.”