July 2018

248 249 THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION ment, with their central purpose being informa- tion-gathering. In electrical construction, installa- tion crews often keep drones in the back of their trucks because they can be used to inspect areas that are hard to access. Simply put, drones are becoming an increasingly indispensable tool in the industry. Similarly, Power Over Ethernet (POE) is a dy- namic innovation impacting a range of technol- ogies such as lighting, signal devices, fire alarm systems, video, and security cameras and systems. Michael J. Johnston, NECA’s Executive Director of Standards and Safety, said codes and standards are being modified to address safety concerns and that NECA and the industry will continue to track the trend and adjust when it is necessary. “Electrical contractors will be installing POE- based equipment more often moving forward,” Johnston said. Electrical contractors also benefit from an increase in opportunities to install electric vehi- cle supply equipment in homes, businesses, and public areas such as freeways. And since about 25 percent of power on the planet is derived from renewable energy sources, it will be essential that systems include some kind of companion energy storage system such as a battery. That includes both older, wet-cell batteries and newer Lithi- um-type technology. “Battery technologies are evolving at a rapid pace,” Johnston added. Additional breakthroughs – autonomous ve- hicles, artificial intelligence and big data –will continue to impact electrical contractors for years to come. Some changes, however, are still far off. “The notion of robots replacing humans on the construction site is an interesting point of discus- sion, but that looks unlikely,” Grau said. That’s not the case for a ubiquitous form or communication: smart phones and tablets. The so-called Internet of Things has brought about meaningful change, streamlining processes in incalculable ways. Contractors are making daily reports, tracking time, documenting progress with pictures, implementing safety plans, and ensuring quality control all in the palm of their hands. Many apps, including some created by NECA, are helping contractors. The NECA Safety Meeting App is a prime example. It is an increasingly important tool designed to streamline the process of holding required safetymeetings and delivering required jobsite safety talks. It was developed specifically for contractors to provide a consistent, cloud-based, user-friendly platform to efficientlymanage their company’s safetymeetings and document them as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.The NECA PPE App, likewise,was designed as a mobile-friendly alternative to the popular NFPA 70E Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Selector Guide. It was developed to assist the electrical construction industry in understanding and applying the provisions found in “NFPA 70E, The Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace,” which has become the foremost industry resource on the subject. NECAalso developed apps for news and events and its advocacyefforts.There’s even one for themonthly ELECTRICALCONTRACTORmagazine,which features a page-by-page version of themonthlymagazine,a text-onlymobile-friendlyversion and a hybrid solution. “Learning to incorporate new technology into our lives and forge ahead will always be a chal- lenge, but NECA is up to it,” Grau said. “It’s exciting to look at where we as an industry are going.”