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AHR Architecture and Building Consultancy Rapid Capture

Thought Leadership

Using smart technology in the wake of Covid-19

Min Read
Lee McDougall - Director, Building Consultancy

by Lee McDougall

Director, Building Consultancy


Covid-19 introduced a new set of challenges for businesses and workplaces to ensure staff can work flexibly. How can using technology help us safely attend our workplaces?

Changes to the coronavirus restrictions saw the UK government advising many of us to work from home wherever possible. However, this is not and was not possible for all employees, all the time.

At the height of the pandemic almost 40% of people reported that their working arrangements involved working from home. In addition to offices, there were many other buildings that continued to be in use and occupied throughout the pandemic. Obvious examples include schools and universities.

Providing reassurance

With pupils back at school, it is clearly critical not only to implement measures to ensure the safety of workers, teachers, students and pupils, but also to be seen to be doing so – by informing people about the changes made to their working, teaching and learning environments and also reassuring them that it is safe to be there.

Providing reassurance to staff, employees, pupils, students and others helps to encourage people to visit workplaces and places of study or learning, and – by facilitating flexible working practices – benefits mental health and wellbeing.

So, what can workplaces, schools and universities – and others – do to demonstrate the measures they have put in place? By scanning our own office environment and creating an online 3D interactive model we have demonstrated an innovative method of doing this


This approach, using Rapid Capture technology, has numerous benefits.

Our staff were able to visit the office virtually, viewing a revised office layout and seating plan, as well as items such as signage, locations of facilities, screens and hand sanitisers. Items were tagged to explain the measures implemented and how they sit within the company’s own Covid-19 policies and procedures. This helped reassure employees of the measures in place to facilitate safe working and helped staff understand and adhere to the guidelines and office procedures which were put in place.

Rapid Capture models reside entirely in the cloud, allowing access to imagery and site information from any PC, tablet or smart phone. This negates the need for specialist software or storage and requires no training for people to view buildings online. Aside from the rewards we have reaped, it can also enable organisations – for example schools, universities and other building owners – to embed virtual tours directly into their website, which users (not only staff and employees but also students, visitors and parents) can navigate around in a similar way to Google Street View.

In a world where restrictions changed regularly and in which employers needed to reassure people quickly, Rapid Capture process provides 3D imagery and virtual tours and in a remarkable timeframe. This could be considered as the first step towards creating a digital twin – a digital record of an existing building which can be used for a range of applications.

Additionally, where organisations often struggled to find budgets to implement Covid-19 measures, cost is understandably a driving factor – this approach produces deliverables in an extremely cost-effective way.

Virtual site visits

This technology enables us to swiftly capture current building stock, in a much quicker way than more traditional approaches. Rapid Capture is particularly relevant to the ‘as built’ environment and the development of accurate building records and portfolio management. It means that estates teams no longer need to be on-site carrying out maintenance checks and can instead undertake this task remotely and across multiple sites. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, benefits like these allow teams to continue to carry out their role in a safe manner.

The information obtained by Rapid Capture technology can be used for a variety of purposes, including assessing and ensuring safety, identifying fabric repairs needed and recording the fabric condition of a building.

There are a range of other benefits to Rapid Capture. Maintenance teams, for example, could benefit from a walkthrough database of an organisation’s buildings, site inductions could be enhanced or it could provide an interactive virtual tour for an interior design team – reducing the need for site visits.

Key assets and points of interest can be tagged with information and directly linked to more detailed documentation, spreadsheets or other web locations. This can prove invaluable to estates teams who need remote access to detailed, live information about their buildings.

With benefits above and beyond reassuring people that measures implemented to guarantee workplaces are Covid-secure, Rapid Capture can help organisations, building owners and estates teams – together with staff, students and other visitors – to find new, better ways of working.

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