Technology

Mixing Innovation With Philanthropy, Reducing COVID-19 Risk

As one of the 20 largest contractors in the United States by revenue, DPR Construction understands how important it is not only to run its business efficiently and safely, but also to give back to the communities in which it operates.
By A. Vincent Vasquez
November 12, 2020
Topics
Technology

Editor’s Note: This article is the eighth in the Construction Tech Talks series, highlighting technology trends and digital transformations from the perspective of industry leaders. Conducted by Vince Vasquez, founder and CEO at PrecisionStory, this valuable enterprise takes the form of both an audio interview with a forward-thinking, tech-savvy CEO and an accompanying article that seek to illustrate how to leverage complex technology via the exploration of successful use cases.

As one of the 20 largest contractors in the United States by revenue, DPR Construction understands how important it is not only to run its business efficiently and safely, but also to give back to the communities in which it operates. So with this as a backdrop, what does an innovative team at DPR do in the face of COVID-19? It finds a way to create an app that improves efficiency and safety, while also creating an avenue to give back to the community.

Kaushal Diwan, DPR’s national director of innovation, has shared that one of the challenges COVID-19 brought to the forefront was a massive requirement for forms to be filled out before entry at a jobsite. Essentially, as part of efforts to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus on jobsites, everyone desiring site entry had to respond to questions following CDC guidelines, such as if they had any COVID-19 symptoms, or had been in direct contact with someone who had contracted the disease. And, in many cases, manual temperature checks were also performed.

As you can imagine, for a jobsite with hundreds of people entering and exiting every day, this resulted in considerable time spent. For instance, people in the backend were required to manually input the form data into DPR’s systems so that the status could be tracked. The step of inputting the data was especially important, because DPR puts a priority on having access to quality data so they can make more informed decisions quickly. In addition, every form was eventually thrown away, which created tremendous paper waste.

Diwan and his DPR colleague Christopher Rippingham, technology leader for international operations, saw this level of inefficiency as an attempt to keep everyone safer from COVID-19 and knew there had to be a better way by leveraging technology. As shared by Diwan: “We quickly realized that using paper forms was probably not the best way to gather the form information in an attempt to prevent any kind of spread of disease if somebody had any symptoms. We thought a better way was to leverage technology, especially given the fact everyone carries a mobile device.”

The result was the creation of a mobile app and online portal called Prescreen [Link: prescreen.virtualbuild.com]. Prescreen provides a COVID-19 prescreening questionnaire, as well as documentation of screening results, greatly improving the tracking of people visiting an office, jobsite or event.

First, each location is registered in the Prescreen online portal. This registration produces a unique QR code. When someone wants to enter a jobsite, they use their phone to scan the QR code, which brings up the Prescreen app. The person then fills out the CDC questionnaire form presented by the app. No second person has to be at each entry point checking and collecting the forms, as the app sends notifications; if a person is identified as at-risk, that in turn sets in motion DPR’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Prescreen app is used in conjunction with other tools in DPRs efforts to minimize the spread of COVID at its jobsites. For instance, in many locations DPR also uses a badge system that tracks if people are keeping six feet of distance. In addition, in many cases DPR has deployed cameras at jobsite entry points that perform temperature checks. Temperature readings are then seamlessly added to each person’s form information in the app.

But the story doesn’t stop there. DPR has released this internally developed app into the market for everyone to use. As of early November 2020 DPR has already collected roughly 1.4 million forms and tracks 128,000 users. At the time of publication, the Prescreen app is processing about 14,000 forms a day.

DPR is waiving the app’s fee for non-profit organizations. And all proceeds will be donated to a COVID-19-related charity.

Although there is no magic answer yet to remove all risk of COVID-19 entering an office, jobsite or event, DPR has increased the ability to efficiently limit COVID-19 exposure by utilizing the Prescreen app. And given DPR’s philanthropic objectives, others can also take advantage of DPR’s innovation to help them limit their exposure as well: a wonderful example of a community-minded company.

by A. Vincent Vasquez

Vince Vasquez has more than 30 years of experience in enterprise sales, marketing and engineering. Working with 20 industry leaders, he is the co-author of Precision Construction, which teaches the fundamentals of IoT with a focus on the construction industry. He is also the co-founder and CEO of PrecisionStory, which brings Precision Storytelling—a new and innovative approach to enterprise storytelling—to market. Vince has an MBA from Stanford University, an MS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. 

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