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Moving Beyond Basic Security: How to Harness the Full Power of Video Surveillance in Construction

Why construction security matters

In 2014, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) estimated that theft of heavy equipment alone was close to $300 million.

That figure doesn’t include:
• Theft of small equipment & tools
• Theft of materials
• Delays to fix damage by vandals or thieves
• Cost of replacing or renting new equipment
• Contractual penalties for project delays due to theft or damage

The majority of theft the NICB has tracked in the last 15 years happened at “other premises,” or what they call hard-to-secure construction sites. Since 2002, over 60 percent of theft happened on these “other” locations with temporary fences and unfinished buildings that can’t be locked. With the limitations of security guards, cost-effective security is a constant concern on a jobsite.

Evolution of surveillance technology

Old CCTV analog technology, although still used by some companies today, is quickly being replaced by modern IP video systems.

These new systems have a great range of camera and software features, flexible installation options with wireless network connections (which reduce the number of cables running through a site) and a large selection of other equipment that can be integrated, including lights, motion detectors and alarms.

As the technology has evolved, the reliability of video surveillance systems has greatly increased. These systems are now used by businesses around the world to increase security.

How surveillance can help 

Surveillance systems on construction sites have many benefits:
• Deters some criminal activity
• Spots activity as it happens and respond quickly
• Records video evidence for investigations by local law enforcement

In addition, consider the savings of a surveillance system compared to hiring a security guard force – a single camera can see a wider area than a guard due to its height, it records video for later review, can instantly sent alerts when it spots activity, and works well in the dark.

A new construction solution

Construction sites present unique challenges to designing and installing a system that another business, like a retail store, would not face. In response, many companies are offering actively monitored camera towers designed specifically for construction sites.

Monitored by remote security companies, this allows contractors to have eyes and ears on their site at night or on weekends for a fraction of the cost of security guards. These monitors can see all the cameras, giving them a complete view and they can respond to trespassers by calling the police and notifying the necessary personnel before serious damage occurs.

More immediately, these monitors can use the speakers to engage with people to let them know they are trespassing and the police are on their way and their actions are being recorded.

These solutions are built to withstand the challenges of construction sites:
• Turnkey solution
• Small footprint to fit into a wide range of sites
• Durable tower material and outdoor cameras
• Nighttime recording features on cameras
• Audio speakers allow remote operator to “voice down” a trespasser
• A camera tower could be installed for the duration of a project and then taken down with the rest of the construction equipment once the job is finished.

Don’t limit yourself – Unconventional system uses

Video surveillance systems are designed firstly for surveillance applications, but if a contractor limits himself to only watching for criminals he won’t be utilizing the full benefit of the system.

The video a camera records, and the live monitoring that can be done, are also an incredible tool for improving operations management. Consider these uses:
• Manage worker hours – see in real time if workers clock in and out of the site on time
• Enforce safety – check in regularly to see if safety protocols are followed
• Increase efficiency – after watching videos from a new point of view, can new ways to streamline the work or improve workflow be identified?
• Support workers’ comp claims – surveillance cameras can also capture video of on-the-job accidents that will help contractors better handle workers’ comp claims
• A surveillance system gives contractors a unique tool to collect impartial evidence of what is or is not working on a site, allowing improvements moving forward.

Staying on schedule and on budget are critical to successful projects, so contractors should use all the tools available.

What’s Next?

Each construction site will have unique security challenges, which makes it difficult to have a “one size fits all” security plan. Add in budget limitations and your existing security solutions, and it may be difficult to know where to start.

Whether looking for new security solutions for a new job or increasing security at an existing site, working with an experienced video surveillance company allows companies to focus on the construction, site safety, and operations management while the vendor designs and supports the surveillance system to help contractors stay on schedule and on budget.


About The Author

As an industry-leading security integrator, VideoSurveillance.com supports thousands of businesses and organizations in more than 60 countries by providing custom video surveillance solutions and services. The company was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.