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Social media project aims to address construction challenges

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EllisDon's newest social media project called Uprising hopes to address some of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry today.

EllisDon's newest social media project called Uprising hopes to address some of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry today.

“We know there are people that have some great ideas, we want to give them a platform and an ability to connect with each other, connect with their peers and reach across proverbial aisles,” said Christine Zakrajsek, EllisDon’s web and social media manager.

Uprising is a construction-related global crowdsourcing platform meant to revolutionize how the industry interacts and generates ideas.

The current challenges are: how to drive greater energy efficiency at work; improving material salvage at the workplace; improving concrete moisture management; how to achieve 95 per cent waste diversion; and what keeps you up at night?

A total of $25,000 ($5,000 per challenge) will be awarded to the solutions deemed most viable, feasible and desirable. 

“The idea is that you can be paid for being smart and clever and having thoughts outside of the box and all that stuff without actually having to work here,” she said.

“Really, this is just a way for people who are really engaged and interested to provide innovative ideas without a lot of formality.”

Through this process, EllisDon hopes to foster innovation, tackling both the small and large challenges.

Zakrajsek pointed to a seemingly simple challenge — waste disposal.

“You’re doing your refurb or a renovation in a downtown urban building, you need to get your waste diversion rates up and you have no room to do laydown. A very simple challenge, but it just chews up time for our project managers and supers and it chews up money on the budget trying to figure this thing out. If we can fix small problems, then we can focus on the bigger stuff.”

Uprising also hopes to connect the industry’s big thinkers, which is an area that Zakrajsek thinks is still missing.

“Although the industry has adapted to social media, really the kind of brands, the people still have not got that connectivity going. It’s really about fixing the problems on the jobsites and also connecting the people within the group.”

Zakrajsek said this idea may be something that the industry is not fully aware of, but EllisDon has been in that position before, as the company led Canadian construction through the realm of social media.

For instance, it started using Twitter about five years ago.

“When people look at us funny, we’re kind of used to it,” she said.

“It might be a little bit ahead, but I think we’re not as far ahead as what it looks like.”

Zakrajsek said she expects it to take on a round of challenges so the industry can see the whole process.

“I don’t think the industry is going to come through on their own, I think we’re going to have to lead them through,” she said.

Zakrajsek acknowledged that there may some competitiveness and some people may not want to make their idea public.

“The reality of it is if that idea stays in their head and it never comes out into the public, we can’t ‘action’ it and their idea never gets to be acted upon and it never gets to go forward,” she said, adding that others will look at it in a different way.

“Other people are going to look at... ‘if I put my idea out there, we might actually adopt it and we can now go forward using my idea and helping to drive change and innovation and growth.’ There’s two ways of looking at it,” she said.

by Kelly Lapointe

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