Technology

Free-to-use collaboration app targets SMEs

12 November 2014 | By Elaine Knutt

GenieBelt, a software company founded by an ex-Davis Langdon project surveyor, has launched a construction collaboration app for smartphones, tablets and desktops that will help workers and managers access construction information, including drawings and schedules online across any device.

The service will be available free for all users without any time limits, although GenieBelt will earn revenue by selling additional services and features to subscribers who opt in to them, currently priced at £190 per calendar month per admin user.

GenieBelt allows users to upload drawings, documents, specifications and project programmes so that teams working on a project can work off “a single version of the truth”.

Project schedules can be imported from MS Project and Asta PowerProject, and, from the resulting Gannt chart, users can begin to monitor the progress of activities, linking to relevant documents or folders, and adding text, photographs and other information as necessary.

GenieBelt has been developed by a 16-strong Copenhagen-based software company founded and led by Gari Nickson. He says the service is aimed at SME contractors, including those who may not have adopted digital working so far, and was specifically developed as a mobile service. 

GenieBelt’s other founders include professionals from Scandinavian software development businesses, while the core team now includes qualified civil engineers and architects.

Nickson says: “Our competitors tend to target larger businesses and bigger projects. The simpler needs of the smaller contractor, subcontractor and tradespeople working on modest projects are often overlooked, and yet they make up the bulk of the construction industry’s workforce.

“In an industry notorious for low margins, charging to use collaboration tools reduces profits. GenieBelt is free. It costs nothing to start using it and to keep using it, and the efficiency savings it enables will boost profits.”

The platform supports multiple projects, and includes a dashboard view that provides an indication of task progress and issues on each project a user is working on. All interactions with the system are securely captured to provide an audit trail outlining who did what and when, while also showing the rate of progress on tasks within the schedule.

Instead of relying on email notifications, GenieBelt has a system it calls “Beats”  – similar to the conversation features on some social media platforms. Authorised users are notified of any updates that affect them and can easily join and track discussions about issues.

The web platform is supported across all common smartphones and tablets. There is also a native Apple iOS app, with an Android version coming soon. Alternatively, accessing GenieBelt via a desktop or laptop will allow easy upload of project information from local hard-drives or network shared folders, so that the information is then available to all authorised project users.

GenieBelt says its user interface is simple, logical and intuitive to use even if working out on-site wearing protective equipment.

The simpler needs of the smaller contractor, subcontractor and tradespeople working on modest projects are often overlooked, and yet they make up the bulk of the construction industry’s workforce.– Gari Nickson, Geniebelt