Typically, security efforts in construction are an afterthought. General contractors are so busy orchestrating the many moving parts of a job, it may not occur to them to install security measures like cameras until they notice something has gone missing.

There are a number of ways security measures can benefit a contractor. One is lower insurance premiums for protected jobsites. The incidence of theft is likely to reduce dramatically. Although statistics vary somewhat, a report by National Equipment Register estimated that theft from construction jobsites – i.e. tools, large equipment, materials, lumber, and appliances – costs site owners $1-billion a year. And that was in 2016 dollars. We can extrapolate from the skyrocketing cost of materials that cost has probably not diminished. Having a camera onsite will deter most thieves, who will move on to the next site if surveillance cameras are present.

Another business benefit of cameras on the jobsite: you can see what is happening on the job without having to drive (or fly) there in person. There are systems that will enable you to have a two-way conversation with subcontractors on the job. Not only does this eliminate the need for you to manage job related activities face to face, but it enables you to make the most of the limited amount of time you have.

It’s likely we have all experienced this phenomenon: people act differently when there is a camera around. Simply knowing it is there may make field workers think twice before doing something that is a safety risk on the site. Subs may reconsider taking shortcuts in the performance of a contract.

As with other construction solutions, technology has improved upon the guard monitored live-view, closed-circuit television systems of yesteryear. These days, even the average homeowner can keep tabs on their home’s front door and environs when they are away. Mobile apps are designed to notice camera events and trigger alerts to the homeowner’s cell phone. Building on successes of artificial intelligence/learning in other industries, there are now artificial learning features that can augment offerings from the security industry.  

Security systems make our piece of the world a safer space.

As we have been inundated by an overwhelming variety of technology just in the construction space, it is important to weigh the risks, costs and benefits of any technology you implement. “Cool” is not a good enough reason to implement an innovation.

Most seasoned business owners begin by deciding what problem they need to solve. This simplifies the selection process. They most likely have a minimum return on investment by which they weigh the business benefits of technology implementation. While most technology enables us to do things better, faster, safer, more efficiently, and more effectively, the numbers need to justify the investment. If the return on investment is expected to be long-term, it will need to be budgeted for from that perspective.

Tune in to season 4, episode 9 of The AEC Disruptors Podcast to learn more about the role security systems can fill on your jobsite.

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