Construction Cameras Bring Benefits To Projects

"Live" construction cameras on a project are useful tools to help with monitoring the job site, reporting to stakeholders, keeping a visual record of the project and security.
August 11, 2010

Jack Waghorn, president of Vienna, Virginia-based developer NV Retail, knew that he would put a construction camera to work on his company's Rutherford Crossing retail center project in Winchester, Virginia, after learning that a friend and fellow developer was able use photographs taken by his camera to prove liability for a multimillion-dollar error that flooded his project.

Georgetown Hospital System requested that their contractor install a construction camera so that they could document and communicate progress to the public as they transform Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, with the addition of a fourth floor on top of the existing floors. The new floor will include an intensive care unit, step-down unit and rehabilitation department with new gym and dining areas. The 13-month project includes structural upgrades on the first floors through third floors — which have remain occupied throughout construction.

Faith Alive Ministries of Chesapeake, Virginia, needed a way for church members to feel involved during the construction of their new facility. To accommodate its expanding congregation, the church is tripling its current square footage with a 1,700-seat sanctuary, six large classrooms, a music room, nursery, administrative space, and a new parking lot. Funded by church members, the project is expected to take 12 months to 15 months and cost around $7 million.

Working with iBEAM Systems, Inc. of Boise, Idaho, this developer, contractor and owner all selected iBEAM® OnSite™ live construction cameras for their projects. The iBEAM OnSite camera system builds an archive of project photos while also letting viewers watch live activity at the job site 24/7. The camera is fully remote-controllable, allowing viewers to pan and zoom into areas of interest or concern. Automatic day/night mode and an all-weather enclosure mean that the camera can be used 24 hours a day, even in the worst weather conditions.

The camera takes high-quality photographs of construction every 15 minutes and automatically uploads them to iBEAM's Archive Server, building a start-to-finish record of the project. Included in iBEAM OnSite Hosting services are monthly and end-of-project time-lapse movies. From the project's customized camera home page, authorized viewers can access the complete online image archive or view and control the live camera. A provider of cameras for construction projects throughout the United States, the system is easily installed.

Located at the northeast corner of Interstate 81 and Martinsburg Pike (Route 11) in Winchester, Virginia, Rutherford Crossing features over 400,000 square feet of retail space anchored by Target and Lowe's. Opening in summer 2008, the project includes road improvements to Route 11. Paul Bielich, NV Retail's site supervisor, located Rutherford Crossing's camera near the main entrance of the 57-acre site.

Rutherford Crossing's camera arrived at the site fully configured with a custom length of cable. Bielich followed the manufacturer's directions to mount and connect the camera, and iBEAM's technical support personnel remotely configured the DSL router to bring the camera online. With the camera's 340-degree horizontal rotation, the entire site can be viewed, including road improvements on Route 11, the Target and Lowe's sites and outlying retail pads.

Robins & Morton, the Birmingham, Alabama-based contractor for Waccamaw Community Hospital, located their camera on a crane 120 feet above the hospital for a bird's-eye view of the project. "The camera was easy to mount and get started," reports Wesley Byrd, field engineer for Robins & Morton. A long-range wireless bridge connects the camera to the Internet connection. Faith Alive Ministries also selected the wireless option to connect their camera to the existing network next door to the job site.

Months into each of these projects, users are enthusiastic about how the cameras are contributing to their projects. "Everyone has been wowed," says Byrd about the Waccamaw Community Hospital camera.

"I didn't know how much we needed the camera until we had it," says Waghorn of Rutherford Crossing's camera, explaining that it is used in many more ways than he had originally expected.

NV Retail incorporates still pictures captured by the Rutherford Crossing camera into brochures for potential tenants. "This has worked tremendously," says Waghorn, admitting that the company struggled with leasing until they began including the progress photos.

At Waccamaw Community Hospital, photos from two separate angles are archived for a comprehensive record of the project. Georgetown Hospital System's marketing department selects images from the online image archive and posts them on the hospital's website so that visitors can see how construction is progressing.

The iBEAM OnSite camera has proven to be a valuable tool for Faith Alive Ministries as well. Monthly time-lapse movies are shared with the congregation during Sunday services. The pastor checks the archive before project meetings and prints photos of issues that need to be discussed.

Waghorn notes that the camera's ability to show what is happening at the site in real-time has been a great benefit to his project because it gives the tenants a true sense of the extent to which progress is being made. "It's very comforting because clients can easily see activity."

Faith Alive office administrator Tom Bradley knows that nothing spurs growth like a church that is expanding. The church illustrates its dynamic growth with a link to the live camera from its website.

Users of live construction cameras report that they are valuable not only for marketing, but also from a practical perspective.

Robins & Morton's off-site personnel were able to monitor the columns and beams for the new fourth floor being installed. The contractor and architect for the new Faith Alive sanctuary use the camera regularly to monitor activity at the site. The church's staff check the status of the project throughout the day, even monitoring weather conditions when severe weather alerts are issued.

At Rutherford Crossing, the camera is in constant use by everyone from the contractor and the tenants to the city and the lender. The site contractor, Perry Construction, logs into the camera early every morning to verify which subcontractors are at the site. Using the camera's image capture function, the project manager can snap and save pictures of safety violations and issue fines when necessary.

Site supervisor Paul Bielich uses the camera to communicate with representatives from Target and Lowe's when issues arise that require their input. The tenant reps log onto the camera's web page and watch as Bielich pans and zooms the camera to focus on areas of concern. With a clear understanding of issues affecting the site, the off-site representatives are able to give immediate feedback, keeping the project moving forward on schedule.

With a background in security, Tom Bradley has worked with many types of camera systems. "I am exceptionally pleased with the quality of the iBEAM camera. It's as good as cameras that I've paid twice as much for."

"I guarantee that I'll be able to point to what we paid for the camera and show that we received more than my money's worth at the end of the project," says Jack Waghorn. "It is a cutting-edge technology that makes NV Retail a cutting-edge company. Our partners are thrilled with it."

         
 

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