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Losses due to theft and vandalism on construction sites have been increasing dramatically during the past decade. According to a fact sheet published by the Great American Insurance Group, “Although exact figures are not available, all reliable estimates are that losses due to theft and vandalism are in the billions of dollars.”

The fact sheet goes on to say: “Crime prevention on construction sites has become a major concern of all responsible contractors. In some cases, the difference between making a profit or sustaining a loss on a job will relate to the contractor’s ability to control crime problems on the site.”

When it comes to securing a construction site, remote interactive surveillance is a valuable tool.

A Challenging Security Environment
The biggest challenge contractors face when devising a theft and vandalism prevention strategy is determining how to secure their assets without having power, lighting or Internet service onsite. It’s one thing to provide surveillance technology on fixed equipment storage facilities and lots, but construction sites—particularly road building projects—are inherently temporary in nature.

For example, a contractor may have just leased an acre to start storing equipment and material, but for how long? It depends on the nature and duration of the project. That’s why solar-powered artificial lighting and surveillance cameras, as well as wireless Internet service, are musts for an effective real-time interactive monitoring solution.

The first step is to conduct a comprehensive survey to determine the site layout, logistics and access points. Key questions to ask include:
  • Is the site gated and fenced?
  • Is power and lighting available onsite, or does a solar solution need to be provided to power artificial lighting and cameras
  • Will a wireless Internet service provider be needed for data communications?
The physical installation process will include setup of cameras and artificial lighting (if necessary). Once the cameras are up and running, the system’s built-in analytics must be tested to ensure the cameras will properly transmit alarms to the central station so the trained security officers can do their jobs properly. There must be a demonstrable connection between how the system is designed and how it performs.

By far the biggest advantage of a remote interactive surveillance system is that it deters theft and vandalism before it happens. An “intelligent” camera system that is being monitored can protect a large site by being in multiple places at one time. In contrast, passive cameras only record activity, and somebody must look at the footage to see if they can gather after-the-fact evidence.

A remote interactive surveillance system is useful both for perimeter protection (keeping people out) and for monitoring specific
assets. While equipment storage yards are often quite large, a mobile camera solution can be positioned to watch a specific piece or pieces of equipment. A well-designed system can see blind spots and access points, as well as where people come onsite and where they can hide. At the same time, cameras can be stationed to provide license plate capture to help monitor site traffic.

Moreover, the operational benefits of having footage during the day can pay significant dividends. Nighttime is when cameras are primarily used for security. Daytime is when customers can have eyes on the operation to make sure people are loading up trucks properly and are complying with OSHA regulations.

Finding the Right Surveillance Partner
First and foremost, the prospective vendor should have a proven track record in construction-related security settings or some other business that requires onsite equipment storage. A prospective provider also must be able to make effective use of the latest technology (e.g., solar power, wireless Internet and “intelligent” cameras) to make a remote interactive surveillance system work properly in the uniquely challenging environment of a construction site.

How the central monitoring station is staffed and operated is another key consideration. Does the provider take a professional approach to staffing with a rigorous screening and interviewing process? Is the command center equipment state of the art? Are the security officers who staff the command center trained to follow clearly defined operating procedures for site monitoring and incident response?

Remote security officers should be trained not only on the systems being used, but also in the industries that they service. Finally, the vendor should be able to show that it has a comprehensive and proactive service model for responding to system maintenance issues.

The Bottom Line
A remote interactive surveillance system is often less expensive than hiring security guards, with the added benefit of having multiple eyes on multiple points. Plus, it gives a contractor not only peace of mind that the business is being protected after hours, but also a wealth of information about what goes on in the yard during the day related to safety and operations. 

Stuart Marcoon is vice president of sales and Scott Harant is the installation director at Eyewitness Surveillance, Hanover, Md. For more information, visit www.eyewitnesssurveillance.com and subscribe to Eyewitness’s email newsletter.

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