Resilient by approach: Maintaining operations with reality capture during COVID-19

During the pandemic, Gannett Fleming is using reality capture technologies to support virtual collaboration while streamlining and accurately documenting existing building conditions.

By Anthony S. Conchado, Jr. and William C. Curran September 17, 2021
Building diagram. Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

Construction projects live on throughout the pandemic. But between shutdowns, social distancing, and travel restrictions, how do you maintain operations while holding safety paramount?

If one thing has become clear over the past year, it’s that adopting new protocols and technologies is essential to meeting project requirements and schedules. Communicating critical project conditions while minimizing in-person interaction is vital.

During the pandemic, Gannett Fleming is using reality capture technologies to support virtual collaboration while streamlining and accurately documenting existing building conditions. Its application promotes good health, increases safety, improves participants’ welfare, and enables business continuity during every phase of design and construction.

The team takes a digital snapshot and creates 3D point clouds/meshes paired with cloud hosting applications to capture, explore, document spaces, and share site data efficiently.

Project Phase Reality Capture – Sample Application
  • Documents existing condition in 3D.
  • Enhances virtual clash detection and constructability reviews.
  • Increases client engagement with visual representation of project scope integrated in design drawings.
  • Heightens focus on risk mitigation.
  • Offers virtual walkthrough for contractors to observe and measure existing conditions in place of an in-person site visit.
  • Provides virtual progress assessment with detailed inspection reports, validates deliverables, and reduces changes.


A range of tools supports this mission.

Terrestrial laser scanning Also known as static LiDAR laser scanning, this type of imaging captures and coordinates billions of 3D points that are meshed together in a point cloud model.
Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) scanning Another form of LiDAR, SLAM allows for continuous scanning as equipment moves through the space.

Digital photos from a drone or hand-held digital camera are overlapped to create a 3D reality mesh.

3D photos mapped to 2D floor plans

360-degree images are combined with a 2D plan to provide a virtual experience.

Executing work safely

In the same way Gannett Fleming works with organizations to achieve Resilience by Design, this methodology identifies and prepares for the risks while sustaining operations. Our team develops a Health and Safety Assessment Plan incorporating client-required safety procedures before the data acquisition process. The team anticipates risks to the facility, consultant staff, and other impacted partners. It develops a work plan to mitigate risks, maintain processes and client procedural requirements, and deliver a project in accordance with requirements, scope, and schedule.

While the pandemic has accelerated the need for virtual collaboration, reality capture boosts the opportunities for remote partnerships in any situation— it could, for instance, strengthen an organization reeling from the impact of a natural disaster. Adopting reality capture powers a transformational approach to fill in traditional data acquisition and data assessment gaps, allowing the entire team to make more informed decisions, validate deliverables, and reduce changes during construction.


This originally appeared on Gannett Fleming’s website. Gannett Fleming is a CFE Media content partner.

Original content can be found at

Author Bio: Anthony S. Conchado, Jr., and William C. Curran, PE, CEM, CBCP, LEED Green Associate