by PAUL WILKINSON, Extranet Evolution
This article was originally published to the Extranet Evolution blog on March 18, 2016.
Live-streaming video reports from site – Go-Cam looked interesting but ultimately disappointed.
Mobile apps for construction snagging (aka: punchlisting, quality control, etc) have become common, taking advantage of smartphones’ and tablets’ in-built cameras to include a photograph of the defect as part of the report. A new app takes this one stage further, and suggests video as a potential site reporting tool.
Go-Cam enables employees to live-stream field reports using their smartphones and tablet devices. It claims to be “the world’s first one-touch field reporting app, allowing users to live-stream video from the field and send out email and text alerts to nominated recipients.”
According to the news release I received, recipients follow a link to a report page where they can see field information including sender details, a location map, a time and date stamp and the live video. The report page is automatically archived for future reference, providing evidence to resolve disputes and verify compliance.
Go-Cam believes it has potential to revolutionise a multitude of industries. It says:
"Estate agents could use the tool to provide walk-through tours of properties, while construction firms would be able to film detailed on-site updates to pass onto engineers or architects. The insurance industry could leverage the app to enhance first-hand claims reporting for customers, while journalists would be able to use the app to film reports on location, saving them for a later date or live-streaming them to editors for instant feedback."
Tod Yeadon, founder of Go-Cam (seemingly a brand created by Newcastle-upon-Tyne company TxTrax Ltd), says:
“We believe we have a world-first in this fantastic new app, which has the ability to power highly informed decision-making in a multitude of industries. With one touch, users can stream video clips directly from their location, informing colleagues of issues in the field with clear, indisputable video evidence.
“Go-Cam can also be used to enhance compliance and prevent customer disputes – after all, the tech doesn’t lie! We’re already receiving reports from various different industries coming up with innovative ways to utilise Go-Cam, and we’re very excited to see what the future holds for this disruptive technology.”
Go-Cam has also been designed to be white-labelled and re-branded by business clients, to function as the company’s very own app. The company says the technology can also be integrated into a business’ existing app, adding value with enhanced functionality. “Available at a fraction of the cost of a new app built, clients benefit from the stable, fully-developed app, with all back-end issues and updates taken care of by the Go-Cam team.”
The app is said to work anywhere that has a Wi-Fi or mobile network. In areas with no internet connection at all, it stores all reports to be sent at a later time, when a connection becomes available. Go-Cam is free for the first month of usage, and £3.99 per user per month after that. For business use, plainly there is a cost associated with providing the reporting platform and storage – Go-Cam invites prospective customers to request a quote.
I gave the tool a quick test, downloading the Android version of the app (v0.0.3) to my Samsung Galaxy S6. After entering some contact details and a password, I was able to film a short video (uploaded over my wifi) and then email a link to that video to an email address I own (strangely, it also offered the option of sharing the video to Facebook – a legacy, it appears, of a sister product called AngelCam). The email gave a location link but this only included half of the coordinates in the URL so the mapping didn’t work. Clicking on the video link opened up the video in my browser, but it was far from “clear” – it was tiny, and there was no obvious way to expand the image.
Nice idea, but my user experience as a recipient was poor, while I wonder if the sender will always have the benefit of wifi or a decent 3G or 4G connection? And – in a highly cost-conscious industry like construction – will the sender (or sender’s employer) also be prepared to pay for the necessary connectivity to share video from their mobile devices?
In its current form, I can’t see Go-Cam threatening existing construction defects reporting tools. They export considerable metadata as part of each defect report which helps with management reporting and tracking of the issue. GPS coordinates will not be sufficiently granular to distinguish between different locations within a single building. Disconnected from other project management tools, it’s just a point solution doing one thing – and, based on my experience, not doing that one thing particularly well. As my school reports used to say: could do better.
Paul Wilkinson is a construction information technology specialist with extensive experience of the UK architecture, engineering, construction and ICT markets (among others). Operating as an industry writer, speaker and consultant, Paul is the champion author behind tech blog, Extranet Evolution, in addition to his independent consultancy at pwcom.co.uk. You can reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.