MobiCloud is a corporate appstore infrastructure supported by the European Commission under the CIP framework, consisting of an application container deployed in a smartphone or tablet connecting to corporate systems via a cloud-hosted platform. The MobiCloud project’s focus is to stimulate the provision of new mobile services in the cloud and to support the emergence of a European ecosystem of mobile cloud application developers.
Global engineering solution provider Costain chose MobiCloud to implement a mobile site diary application in order to replace existing paper-based records, where site engineers record at the end of the day all the events that have happened on site. The MobiCloud site diary enables Costain to quickly search for the relevant records and matching pictures, but also to make sure that the information is more accurately documented by its engineers. As a result, it can substantially reduce the frequency, cost and duration of disputes related to construction projects.
Costain's Group innovators team, together with corporate IT, representative engineers and supervisors worked with Appear and COMIT Projects (MobiCloud project participants) to model the workflows and design a tablet-based site diary application hosted in the cloud. MobiCloud recently won in all four categories for which it was nominated for Enterprise Mobile Solutions at the 12th annual Mobile Star Awards. The Mobile Village Awards honor both industry-leading mobile products and cutting-edge new solutions in categories covering software, mobile devices and success stories as chosen by readers of the bi-weekly newsletter GoMobile.
It is very easy to talk about the benefits of mobile and cloud technology, but it is often hard to really understand them. The decision to invest in a mobile cloud solution is inevitably a financial one, but any improvement in efficiency or cost effectiveness is ultimately due to the behaviour of the employees using it. For those individuals an improvement in efficiency is also an improvement to the quality of their working life.
Katie is a site engineer working for Costain and has first-hand experience of the difficulties of keeping accurate records in the frenetic environment of a construction site. Such records are important for many reasons, but not least to ensure the accountability of all parties and their adherence to a safe and assured method of working. Katie is one of the engineers who has been testing the Mobicloud platform and knows all too well what it is like working the “old way”...
"Typically I arrive in the office before the sun is up, determined to get a hot drink before venturing out onto site. After a manic half hour ensuring all the paperwork is in place including permits, inductions, briefings, drawings and check sheets I finally get out onto site...without a brew. Suddenly, it dawns on me that I didn’t write up my site diary last night for yesterday’s activities! I had been working late and by the time I got back to the site office getting home to bed was all I could think of. Its ok, I say to myself, I shall write it tonight along with today’s when I get back in. I can still remember what happened yesterday...can’t I?"
Site engineers typically work long unsociable hours – a twelve hour day is not unusual and when things go wrong the hours get longer. Any time that can be saved, especially on mundane tasks that are a waste of an engineer’s skills, is a blessing. An extra thirty minutes in the day can make the difference between a well-run site and a happy engineer and a chaotic site with an engineer headed for a breakdown.
One of the major benefits of the MobiCloud site diary app is that it allows records to be made as and when events occur and in a way that does not require writing up or transcribing later. This saves time, reduces the need for hastily scribbled notes and removes the stress of trying to recall events retrospectively. It also improves the quality of the record and provides something that has never been available before – a verifiable electronic audit trail. This can be extremely valuable to a construction company when it needs to prove a particular sequence of events, for example as part of dispute resolution or an investigation into an accident or unsafe occurrence. However, on a day-to-day basis the greatest benefit to the site engineer is time…
“I arrive in to the office before the sun comes up. Brew up to ensure I get a hot drink before venturing out onto site. All the paperwork is in place including permits, inductions, briefings, drawings and check sheets from the night before. I pick up my iPad and head out onto site.
The usual activities ensue, however I am now able to record each one in real time as they happen. Not only can I record the plant and labour used, I can record where it’s happening, how it’s happening and more importantly if there are any delays or issues with subcontractors! As well as these extremely useful features, the efficiencies don’t stop there!
For each entry I can take photos and attach them directly to the information so they will be there as reference when reviewed (no downloading from a camera and trying to match them up later!). Also, I don’t need to remember the weather forecast! The app is directly linked to the local weather and records it automatically without me having to think about it!
The same goes for emails too...I can respond in a more timely fashion directly from my ipad!
I leave the office before the sun goes down, wave to the security guard to wish him good night... and I think... paperwork done, site diaries complete... bring on tomorrow!”
Organizations wishing to join the MobiCloud ecosystem are encouraged to sign-up for the early adopter program where they will gain access to the MobiCloud toolkit and testbed to build their own cross-platform cloud mobile app. The toolkit contains a number of predefined application templates to kick-start implementations of use cases in transportation, construction and field service enterprise mobility projects. The platform includes a mobile web SDK for creating HTML5 application components, native SDKs for creating cross-platform containers, as well as Java and REST SDKs for integration enhancements with back-end systems.
For more information about the MobiCloud project, please visit our website. If you want to try out the benefits of the site diary app within your own organization, it is currently available on a free trial basis.
*** Disclaimer: This blog post is written by an external contributor. The author is not part of the staff of the European Commission.