By Jason Chiu
Innovative tech to help you maintain maximum securityCanadian Contractor Project Management Technology
Keeping residential construction and renovation sites safe and secure is crucial for project success. From ensuring employee safety to protecting valuable equipment and preserving the site’s integrity, there are various aspects of security that site managers must consider. In recent years, technological advancements have significantly influenced the security landscape, offering solutions that effectively address construction site security challenges. In this article, we’ll discuss the top-of-the-line technologies that have become indispensable for securing construction sites.
The power of video surveillance
Today’s video surveillance systems are light-years ahead of their predecessors, making them an essential component of construction site security. When it comes to construction sites and large residential construction projects, intrusion, interruption, and injury are three of the most common threats to productivity, profitability, and employee welfare across a site. Flexible and easily deployable surveillance facilitates high-quality remote supervision, thereby minimizing security issues. This includes assisting in health and safety monitoring and incident investigation, as well as protecting construction sites from unauthorized access, vandalism, and the theft of materials, tools, and machinery.
It is estimated by AVIVA that the construction industry suffers a loss of $46 million a year due to theft, and that figure is just for equipment. Deployable surveillance ensures that a site is adequately monitored and allows for site managers to be connected to security and access control systems in real-time. This makes it possible to identify suspect activity before intrusion and to visually verify what is happening before taking action to prevent damages and subsequent losses.
High-quality, real-time monitoring can be a game-changer in preventing unauthorized entry, theft, and vandalism into a site. A well-designed surveillance system should include a mix of fixed and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, along with infrared cameras for night-time monitoring. Remote accessibility of these systems provides added flexibility and control, becoming an indispensable tool for contractors and site managers in today’s modern construction sites.
For decision-makers responsible for security at temporary and/or remote sites, it can be challenging to decide on the most appropriate surveillance system to implement that will fulfil their particular needs. The benefits of deployable surveillance include remote access to live and recorded high-resolution video from any authorized computer or smartphone, as well as automatic alerts for site perimeter activity, intrusion, and easy integration with access control and alarm systems. A deployable solution is the most advantageous surveillance option for temporary structures because it is adapted to provide a flexible, scalable, and reliable surveillance system that does not require an on-site physical network.
Deployable surveillance solutions provide high-quality detection around the clock, and by tapping into the increased available bandwidth in cellular networks, it is also now possible to build cost-effective solutions that can be easily set up, maintained, and monitored remotely.
Wireless technology further enhances the capability of surveillance systems, allowing for quick and easy installation, especially on temporary structures or sites under renovation. This flexibility enables site managers to adapt to the evolving security requirements throughout the different stages of construction.
Access control: the key to a secure site
Access control systems play a vital role in fortifying residential construction sites. By managing who enters and exits the site, these systems effectively prevent unauthorized access and ensure that only qualified personnel are on the premises. In addition, access control systems aid in tracking employee attendance and can be customized to grant or restrict access based on an individual’s role, working hours, or specific site areas.
The growing need for advanced security solutions is evident, with the global access control market size expected to reach $41.52 billion by 2030. Controlling who can enter a site at what time is a no-brainer in the pursuit of ultimate security.
Protection in hazardous areas: explosion-protected cameras
While not required in all situations, there are construction sites which could be working with hazardous materials that need to be monitored at all times of the day. Top-tier manufacturers offer robust, high-quality cameras housed in heavy-duty enclosures that prevent sparks from igniting vapours, gases, dust, or fibres in the environment.
This makes them ideal for monitoring operations and processes with remote visual verification of readings from gauges or sensors across your site. Thermal cameras can also be explosion-protected, allowing the monitoring of overheating equipment. This all serves to reduce the risk of personnel.
A recent explosion in a residential construction site in Orléans, Ottawa caused construction workers to become trapped underneath rubble, and this is a situation explosion-protected cameras may have aided recovery efforts after the event, as first responders searched through rubble for survivors. Explosion-protected cameras provide added situational awareness and increased safety to site personnel.
Detail from cameras can also be enhanced greatly through integration of other sensors. Heat and thermal sensors, for instance, can detect if the temperature of machinery is moving outside safe thresholds, or if workers are working in potentially unsafe zones, near gaslines.
Gas sensors can detect leaks and alert site personnel to address the issue, and if cameras detect people in the affected area, evacuation messages can be triggered over audio speakers. Similarly, if cameras detect people moving into restricted or dangerous construction zones.
These ancillary sensors can all be integrated into a unified security platform to provide actionable and timely alarms to prevent or mitigate incidents.
Staying connected with mass notification systems
In times of emergencies or security breaches, effective communication is critical. Mass notification systems can bridge the communication gap, ensuring that information is disseminated rapidly to employees and relevant on or off-site stakeholders. These systems should be customizable and scalable to allow for targeted alerts and seamless integration with existing communication channels like email, phone calls, and text messages.
Aside from emergency situations, mass notification systems can also help construction site managers communicate vital information, such as schedule changes, weather alerts, and site-specific safety reminders.
Smart surveillance: the role of advanced analytics and AI
The integration of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in surveillance systems can greatly enhance their effectiveness and predictive capabilities. AI-powered surveillance solutions reduce false alarms and accurately identify potential threats, while advanced analytics can identify patterns on-site and trends in security incidents. Market Research Future projects that the global video analytics market will grow at a 22 per cent CAGR between 2021 and 2026, showcasing the increasing demand for smart surveillance solutions.
One remarkable application of AI and analytics in construction site security is the ability to monitor worker safety. By analyzing video feeds in real-time, AI algorithms can detect when workers are not wearing appropriate safety gear, such as hard hats or high-visibility vests, and alert site managers to take corrective action. This not only enhances worker safety but also helps maintain compliance with safety regulations.
Moreover, AI-driven surveillance systems can be programmed to recognize specific behaviours or activities, such as loitering, trespassing, or the unauthorized removal of equipment. When such incidents are detected, the system can alert security personnel, allowing for a rapid response to potential threats.
Innovative lighting solutions for enhanced security
Illumination plays a critical role in construction site security, as well-lit areas deter criminals and facilitate better video surveillance. Energy-efficient LED lighting solutions have become popular for construction sites due to their long-lasting and cost-effective nature. Additionally, integrating motion-activated lighting with surveillance systems can help conserve energy while maintaining site security.
Advanced lighting systems can also be programmed to follow a schedule or be triggered by specific events, such as unauthorized access, to provide the necessary illumination and draw attention to potential security breaches.
When lighting is challenging to implement, good surveillance cameras with optimized infrared (IR) illumination can help with creating good quality usable images. When IR is optimized, it is able to provide even coverage which can aid in forensic details.
Technological innovations in surveillance, mass notification, and other security-related areas have significantly transformed the way residential construction and renovation sites are secured. By embracing and investing in these cutting-edge technologies, building site managers can effectively protect their employees, equipment, and project sites. A comprehensive security plan incorporating these advanced solutions enables construction and renovation projects to proceed smoothly and efficiently, ultimately leading to better performance and profitability.
Jason Chiu is the professional services group manager with Axis Canada. He has a background in IT and networking and has spent over 15 years in the security industry, from being an integrator, consultant, and manufacturer.