Have you thought of... Nov/Dec 2009

7 January 2010

...making building sites more like an episode of CSI?

If your site security uses a fingerprint recognition system that struggles with builders’ worn, cracked or dirty fingers, here’s a solution Horatio would be proud of. The National Physical Laboratory has ranked a fingerprint reader developed by researchers at Warwick University top for accuracy because it can identify partial, smudged, or even warped fingerprints.
The technology has been snapped up by Data Collection Strategies, a security control installer for the construction industry, and is being used on six building sites. Managing director Rodney Holland said: “This is the first time I have seen a biometrics system that works reliably with the type of poor-quality fingerprints we see routinely in the construction industry.”

…extending your coffee break by taking it above Manhattan? 

That’s what we thought this Willmott Dixon team had done until we realised they had tricked us with their cunning photo-fakery. The team was working on a cancer research facility in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, when the Macmillan Cancer Support charity asked them to recreate “Lunch atop a Skyscraper”, the famous 1932 photograph taken during construction of the Rockefeller Center. The charity wanted to use the image to promote its “World’s biggest coffee morning” event.

“We never actually left Merthyr Tydfil,” said operations manager Ian Jones. “The team sat on a beam a few feet off the ground and computer trickery made it look like we were in New York.”

....using a toy dancing robot to find mobile phone reception on a rural site? 

That was the winning suggestion in October’s contest to adopt Rocky, the dancing yellow dumper truck that no site should be without. Jane Hopwood MCIOB and her colleagues at Cumbrian contractor Thomas Armstrong often waste time running round sites in the north west trying to get decent mobile reception. But once Rocky reports for duty, he can carry the phone on his travels around the site. If it rings – meaning he’s found reception – Rocky will start to dance and flash his lights. Hurrah!

Congratulations to Jane, and thanks also to everyone else who entered.

…burying a time capsule beneath your building? 

Loughborough contractor William Davis has made its bid for posterity, burying a capsule on its site for social landlord Trent & Dove Housing.

Children from two nearby schools sealed artefacts from 2009 in a capsule due to be opened in 2059.

Nice idea, but sadly an estimated 80% of time capsules are forgotten about before they can be recovered. The International Time Capsule Society – based at Oglethorpe University, Georgia in the US – has the following tips:  

● Select a retrieval date.
● Select a safe container with a cool, dry, and dark interior.  
● Mark the capsule’s location with a plaque describing its “mission”.
● Include a mix of items from the sublime to the trivial as they will all have meaning in the future.
● Conduct a solemn sealing ceremony and formally christen the time capsule.
The ITCS has set up a database to register all known time capsules
for future generations.

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