Build with the construction industry

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

With a reported $1 billion annual loss of heavy equipment and a projected loss of two to three times that amount in stolen materials, construction executives need an effective and efficient solution to protect their assets and improve overall operational efficiency.

Until recently, construction executives had limited technical resources available to protect their property and assets. Because surveillance systems typically required expensive coax, fiber, and category 5/6 Ethernet cabling, construction job sites could only deploy security guards or depend on their local police patrols for security. Many in the industry have accepted the loss of material for each project as a cost of doing business and have budgeted thousands of dollars for the loss of valued materials during each project’s budget.

However, the emergence of wireless security solutions providing secure and flexible infrastructure has changed the security possibilities for construction executives. Not only can it protect the loss of resources such as copper material or bulldozers, it also can help construction executives manage their operations, monitor their safety practices and manage the overall construction site more efficiently. This presents an opportunity for the savvy integrator who sees the quick ROI that a comprehensive integrated security system can provide.

Wireless allows security personnel to view streaming video and assess security of a facility, sure, but this same infrastructure can also have multiple types of integrated sensors to monitor activity after hours, including cameras, using motion and other video analytics; air-quality sensors or moisture sensors; even standards intrusion alarms. All of these can alert appropriate security staff on their mobile devices when alarms are set off, or can be monitored by a central station operator who can dispatch authorities.

But it isn’t just about reducing loss for the industry. As construction executives begin to reap the benefits of wireless technologies, it could potentially lower insurance policy costs for their business policies. The addition of a wireless surveillance solution lowers the risk for major theft, reducing the possibility of a loss and thereby lowering an insurance company’s costs. Really, if an insurance underwriter doesn’t want to consider giving their clients a discount after lower losses for several years, security professionals should help their construction customers realize they should look for a new carrier.

Cameras, in the right configuration, can further allow a central risk manager to remotely monitor multiple work sites from their laptop. If a company enforces the use of safety helmets on all their job sites, central station operators can quietly conduct video audits of their employees and subcontractors. If a worker is caught working without his helmet, the operator can send a video clip captured from the recording software of the person not following the company’s policy to the onsite superintendent or project manager. This allows companies to use video to help with operational compliance. Since many insurance claims for worker’s compensation cases result from employees not following a construction firm’s safety policies in conjunction with lack of governance, the ability to provide more stringent enforcement of policies through video could also lower an insurance company’s claims.

Really, the possibilities are endless. If a contractor has scheduled the arrival of materials or workers on a specific phase of a project, a construction manager can verify them from his laptop or computer through watching live video feeds from the site. If a vendor promised five drywall specialists at 8 a.m. on Saturday, a site superintendent could remotely verify their presence from his laptop at home or his PDA from a bass boat.

With all of the added benefits of wireless surveillance solutions provide, construction executives can justify the deployment of them for their work sites. For security integrators, these new converged solutions provide more options for their clients and allow them to think of new markets in which to expand.

Sloan B. Foster is VP of marketing and business development at HBMG. She can be reached at