Dame Judith Hackitt has spoken extensively about the construction industry’s need for a more joined-up approach. Her report, ‘Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety’, produced in the wake of the UK Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, made a number of recommendations on preventing similar incidents from taking place in the future.
Her vision of achieving the ‘golden thread of information’ is one where trackable, traceable digital records are made readily available across the building lifecycle from construction through to building operations. The ‘golden thread’ seeks to extend fire safety best practice beyond fire professionals to wider society, relaying key information about a building through a chain of stakeholders, from architects to fire engineers through to building safety managers to end-users. Harnessing unstructured data could become a vital step in achieving this goal.
Two scale-ups supporting this golden thread of information through cloud-based software and workflow digitization for field service personnel in the fire protection and life safety sector are highlighted in this article.
"The Grenfell tower incident showed the terrible human cost of not taking fire compliance seriously," said Aidan Lister, CEO and founder of Uptick, who established his Australian startup in 2014 to offer digitized job management software for building maintenance and compliance.
Uptick's platform is used to maintain over 25% of Australian commercial and multi-storey residential buildings, where its suite of products is utilized by field servicing companies performing critical asset maintenance. Uptick has seen rapid growth in the last 12 months with over 250,000 buildings maintained through their system in Australia and New Zealand.
The company attributes its rapid growth and adoption by the fire protection and compliance industry to an easy-to-use app, customer portal, and powerful office productivity tools, bringing service providers, auditors, building owners and facility managers onto a single platform to manage their maintenance and building compliance.
In June 2021, the company announced a partnership with Honeywell for an integration of the Uptick customer portal with Notifier fire panels, as well as launching Uptick Workforce for HVAC extending their asset maintenance offering for fire safety service providers to the HVAC industry. And in August 2021, launched their product in the UK fire protection market.
Uptick received a “massive” strategic growth investment from Accel-KKR, a leading private equity firm in July 2021. "Building maintenance, safety and compliance is intricate and highly regulated. Uptick delivers a highly valued solution to building owners, managers, auditors and service providers by turning cumbersome steps and paperwork into digitized processes that save time and remove inefficiencies," said Phil Cunningham, Operating Executive at Accel-KKR.
PlanRadar, a Vienna-based Austrian startup founded in 2013, is the provider of a digital documentation and communication solution for construction and real estate projects. The company offers a web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) solution used for defect and task management, certifications, maintenance, handovers, and more. Via a web application and by means of apps for smartphones and tablets, the acquisition, documentation, communication and tracking of any kind of information is made possible on the basis of a digital floor plan or architectural plan. By digitizing the workflow, PlanRadar reduces the frequency of errors, saves time for all parties involved and realizes efficiency gains: the training and maintenance-free application enables cost savings of up to 70%.
The company has more than 13,000 customers in 55+ countries. In 2020, they launched subsidiaries in France, Poland, CEE, Russia, the Netherlands, Italy, Romania and Spain.
Recent UK customers include British Land, one of the UK’s largest property development and investment companies. From May 2021, British Land’s Retail Operations division will begin using PlanRadar in the field to track repairs, works and recurring maintenance at their locations across the country. The company’s retail portfolio includes a range of retail parks, shopping centers and superstores.
PlanRadar has also recently announced a new partnership with IFC Group (International Fire Consultants), one of the UK’s leading fire safety consultancies. From the end of August 2021, IFC Group will use PlanRadar in the field to manage inspections, fire risk assessments and audits across their projects globally.
Moving away from manual processes towards digital adoption in the fire safety and building operations sector ensures improved procedures to keep occupants safe, businesses running efficiently and higher standards across the board, as well as achieving a proper handover of a detailed digital blueprint to Facility Managers, so they have a clear understanding of the building they are responsible for.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.