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January 25, 2010

Trapped in Building Rubble after an Earthquake? There's an App for That!
Filed under: safety — Tags: — nedpelger

Dan Woolley works for Compassion International, a wonderful non-profit that strives to improve the lot of children around the world. I heard their President, Wess Stafford, speak earlier this year about his own horrific childhood experiences and his vow to help other children. To that end,  Dan Woolley was in Port-au-Prince hotel working on a film about child poverty.

“Then all of a sudden just all craziness broke loose,” Woolley said. “Convulsions of the ground around us, the walls started rippling and then falling on us.”

As Dan laid there alone in the darkness, he took stock and determined he had blood streaming from his head and his leg. Then he remembered, “I have an app for that!” He took his cell phone and opened the First Aid & CPR phone application from American Heart Association. He used his clothing to make bandages and perform appropriate first aid. Fearing he may be going into shock and knowing he shouldn’t sleep too long, he set his phone alarm to wake himself every 20 minutes.

As he sat in the darkness, he pulled out his journal and wrote the following, bloodstained¬† note to his family, “I was in a big accident, an earthquake. Don’t be upset at God. He always provides for his children even in hard times. I’m still praying that God will get me out, but he may not. But even so he will always take care of you.”

Dan waited about 60 hours until he was rescued.  You can read more of the story details at CNN World.

I’ve chosen to invest a fair bit of my time, energy and money into some construction phone apps that should be helpful to many. Reading this article makes me more convinced I’m on the right track.


August 29, 2009

Would Phone Apps be Helpful to You?
Filed under: Productivity — Tags: — nedpelger

My friend Erik Schouten suggested I should be making iPhone and Blackberry phone apps for the various helpful items on I imagine it would be useful to have the most common ADA requirements or some concrete form tolerance requirements right at your phone, to access immediately when a question arises on the jobsite. Often there just doesn’t seem like there’s time to get to a computer and search for the answer.

Erik uses his phone with all sorts of crazy apps. He’s a drywall contractor and I recently asked him to investigate some complaints about excess noise from an elevator equipment room to adjacent apartments in several buildings we just completed. Erik had an application on his iPhone that measured sound pressure in decibels and also a frequency analyzer.

So he was able to tell me that in several of the units the bathroom exhaust fan made more noise than the elevator, but one unit had substantially more elevator noise than the others. He was also able to pinpoint that the noise was almost all mid-range (500 Hertz to 1000 Hertz). Knowing that it wasn’t real low frequency sound transfer, helped us devise a simple solution to the problem for that apartment.

Previously, I was thinking expensive lead drywall may be the best answer. Because of the tools from Erik’s iPhone and some basic knowledge of sound transfer, we can save the owner substantial costs and ourselves some serious headaches.

I don’t think most guys on the jobsite will want or need a sound frequency analyzer, but I am wondering if they wouldn’t use clear building code and technical info that is easy to find in their smart phones. What do you think about this concept? I’d really appreciate some comments here, as it will be a major step to develop these apps.

As a final note, I understand lots of PMs, Supers and Foremen don’t currently have the more expensive smart phones, but I’m fairly sure within a couple of years we will all have them. The benefits, even just having instant access to email and the internet, will be too high vs the lowering cost.

Please take a few moments and leave me a comment about your thougths on this issue. I appreciate it.