Use of Virtual Reality to Minimize the Spread of COVID-19 on Construction SitesAuthor/Presenter: Boyd, Allison; Bradley, D. Cody; Waugh, Lloyd M.
The University of New Brunswick (UNB) first developed a virtual reality documentation (VR Doc) system in 2006 and has continued to make improvements. VR Doc has evolved into a web-based interface for organizing and viewing virtual reality panoramas. The main purpose of the VR Doc system is to support virtual site visits, pre-emptively resolve claims, and record photographic as-builts. This project is a collaboration between UNB, Bradley Engineering Ltd, and Bird Construction Inc., and focuses on VR Doc’s virtual site visit capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical site visits are more challenging as a result of COIVD-19 and limiting personnel on site has the potential to reduce the spread of the virus. The VR Doc system was implemented on the Fredericton International Airport upgrade site over a five-month period during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives of the project owner, the general contractor, and the electrical subcontractor were provided with access to the VR Doc website. These representatives provided valuable feedback that provided insight on how this technology could reduce the number of personnel visiting site. Opportunities to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include: minimizing the site visits by those monitoring project progress, minimizing the site visits by those inspecting completed work, and providing visuals of specific project details to Airport board members and consulting engineers. Impediments to this technology include: introduction of yet another software interface and the need for on-site personnel to capture the images at specific times. Opportunities for improvement are also identified.