“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
- Forrest Gump’s Mom
It’s unlikely Mama Gump ever worked with construction webcams but her instincts were on point: if the webcam you ordered is just a box of gear shipped to the jobsite there’s no guarantee it can solve your problems. What you very well may get is a headache in a box.
The benefits of webcams on a jobsite are obvious— easy, anytime access to current site conditions, time-stamped archives, high-res detail and those slick progression time-lapses. Webcams help you inspect jobsite conditions, resolve issues and mitigate risks. But all these benefits hinge on one key factor: the system must work.
A fresh box of webcam equipment is also a box full of questions: How do you install the webcams? Where do you mount it to ensure you get critical coverage? Do you need single POV or PTZ? How many megapixels (and what does this mean)? Has the system been tested? How will you access the images? Is there a back-up system to prevent downtime? What happens if the power goes down? And do the people who sold you the webcams show up on site to help when you urgently need it? 1-800-Support likely won’t cut it.
“Anyone on a jobsite can just climb a ladder and bolt your brand new webcam onto something, but there’s a lot of room for error there,” says Multivista webcam specialist David Laschilier. “To ensure you are getting a solution and not more problems, I always recommend a system that comes with local experts who show up at your site and personally make sure the webcams are installed properly to capture the best images and a field of view that meets your needs.”
College Football Hall of Fame Time Lapse by Multivista
Everyone loves those webcam time-lapses of their project coming together, but Lacshilier says it’s more important to ensure your system includes other important features. “Bank-level” secure data storage and automated monitoring are key, so is a robust software platform offering mobile access for any number of users. Webcam data is most useful when it’s integrated with your other project documentation to allow for easier progress verification, schedule control, dispute resolution and team communication.
“Multivista’s webcams allow us to remotely view the site in real-time enabling us to verify progress daily even when we cannot physically be at the site,” says Rhiannon Mabberly, Development Manager on the TELUS Garden project in Vancouver, Canada. “The project’s historical data stored on the Multivista website lets us review progress from previous dates. We can look back and see exactly when installs relating to structure and glass, as well as other major milestones, have been completed. These webcam services are providing us tremendous value.”
A reliable webcam system can pay for itself in travel costs alone. Large projects have dozens of eyeballs monitoring them at any given time––Project heads, engineers, trades, owners, architects, sub-contractors––webcams give all these people the ability to log in, verify and comment on time-stamped site photos without having to visit the actual jobsite. But if the system is not functioning properly your fancy webcam can become an expensive embarrassment—there’s nothing worse than fifteen people logging into a weekly progress meeting and staring at blank screen because no one noticed when a tradesman unplugged the camera six days ago to charge his drill battery.
“Monitoring is integral if you want to maximize the data captured,” explains Laschilier. “Random, unplanned stuff happens on a jobsite and it is paramount that systems are in place to notify support personnel in the event of camera downtime so they can send someone to the site to help resolve the issue.”
Local, boots on the ground support is the main difference between full-service webcams and the ones that just show up in a box. Another key factor is where your webcam data actually ends up.
“A folder that everyone on the team can access is nice,” Laschilier says, “but it’s a lot better if your webcam data is organized and accessed from the same software collaboration platform as your other construction documentation. You want to log in once and find your interior progression photos, your MEP photos, your webcam archives and live views all in one place.”
Top webcam systems also include the option to provide clients with public links to integrate webcam views into their websites for marketing purposes or to entice and inform potential tenants, buyers or other project stakeholders.
When it comes to construction webcams, Mama Gump’s “box of chocolates” theory doesn’t cut it. As a key project stakeholder, you need to know what you’re gonna get and for that you need a webcam package that includes local, expert service and robust system support. Sorry Mama, the solutions are outside of the box.
Learn more about full-service construction webcam systems at www.multivista.com/services/construction-webcams