Construction sites are rich targets for would-be thieves or vandals, so security cameras seem a must on the jobsite, either as a deterrent or to catch crooks in the act. But as camera technology has been improving alongside the means to deploy it, jobsite cameras have found a host of new uses in construction. From leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and cloud technology to cameras worn by the workers themselves.
Take a look at the five ways cameras are helping companies keep jobs on track, ensure worker safety, and even help monitor social distancing and mask wearing.
1. Virtual Site Walkthroughs and Modeling Combining Drones and Robots
You’ve probably heard of Boston Dynamics’ Spot, the super-agile four-legged robot capable of traversing even the trickiest of terrains. Its abilities have caught the attention of construction companies, which have begun deploying the dog-like robot for a number of job site tasks.
Procore integration partner DroneDeploy, a cloud software company that uses drone footage to provide a total picture of a job in progress, has begun combining its technology with ground-based cameras, including those mounted on robots like Spot. The resulting initiative, which DroneDeploy calls 360 Walkthrough, involves capturing footage and photos of a jobsite at the ground level and combining it with footage captured by drones. Together, these images are stitched together into a 3D model accurate to within 1 inch.
2. Reducing Project Risk Through AI
Construction sites can be a maze of potential hazards. Everything from carelessly placed palettes of materials to objects falling from above can cause serious accidents. Monitory safety in a hazardous environment is challenging even in the best of circumstances, the aid of artificial intelligence and cameras is helping change that.
Procore partner Smartvid.io helps firms reduce project risk while boosting worker safety using an AI platform called Vinnie (Very Intelligent Neural Network for Insight and Evaluation). Vinnie scans video, photos, and other jobsite data to keep track of instances where workers’ safety is compromised. It may be due to something they’re doing (like not wearing a mask or hard hat) or an everyday jobsite hazard, for example, a carelessly placed ladder. The system alerts companies to potential safety issues so they can be addressed early.
3. Collecting Jobsite Data to Keep Projects on Track
Construction companies have caught on to the value and usefulness of project data, particularly when using Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems. Israeli technology firm Buildots uses 360-degree cameras mounted to workers’ hard hats to gather site information in real-time. The collected data is then run through an AI-powered system and incorporated into a BIM model to create a digital twin of the project, New Civil Engineer writes.
Using a combination of visual coding, AI, and machine learning, Buildots gives clients a more holistic look at a job in progress, which is continuously updated throughout the project.
“Basically, it’s a real-time comparison of what is physically on site and what is supposed to be on site,” Buildots customer success manager Sophie Morris tells New Civil Engineer. “It points out where something is right or wrong, and how much progress has been made.”
The data is automatically uploaded to a secure Dropbox folder. The client can access it at any time to view the current status. Buildots’ technology can even be accessed by employees now working from home to conduct virtual, up-to-date site walkthroughs.
4. Social Distancing Monitoring
Part of the “new normal” stemming from the COVID-19 crisis is ensuring workers and site visitors remain at least six feet apart, which may be difficult to monitor on a jobsite. Connected security cameras, like those offered by Pro-Vigil, make tracking compliance much easier. They can automatically detect and track when social distancing mandates are not being followed.
The system automatically places a blue ring around people in the camera’s field of vision, which turns red whenever they’re too close together. The data is collected throughout each day, and the system uses video analytics to generate a daily scorecard. This way, companies can see exactly where and when violations occur. The scorecards can be used to identify areas or times where social distancing protocols are frequently lax, allowing companies to take the appropriate corrective action. These may include reconfiguring an area of the jobsite or speaking to employees to ensure they follow the guidelines.
5. Jobsite Activity Tracking
Your typical construction site is a beehive of activity, with workers, site visitors, deliveries, and equipment coming and going all day long. Keeping track of it all manually is no small feat, and it can potentially lead to inefficiencies or costly mistakes. Quartz is a startup out of San Francisco, which uses a machine learning-based camera platform to do more than simply stream 4K video of a jobsite. It can actually help companies make sense of what they’re seeing.
For example, say a construction site is expecting an important delivery. Quartz’s camera system actively monitors the jobsite and generates alerts to notify when the delivery has arrived, what was delivered, and where the items were left. It can also keep track of information like how many people are on-site at any given time, or whether specialty contractors or key pieces of equipment have arrived as expected. The system offers firms a wide range of field activity data at a glance.
Cameras have come a long way from the static, unmoving blocks with a blinking red light. Smart technology integrations have made them significantly more versatile, making them an answer to many safety and efficiency needs. As the technology continues to evolve, expect cameras to take on an even bigger range of jobsite tasks.