Automated photo documentation is one of the simplest steps a GC can take to improve cost, efficiency, and safety through applied technology. It is widely accepted as a best practice to provide as-built documentation, simplify project management, and improve stakeholder transparency. The key is to deploy a system that is fully automated and cost effective so that it provides the full ROI potential.

Today there are multiple techniques for acquiring jobsite imagery during the build: fixed job site cameras, smartphones and tablets, drones, and photography services. Each of these can have a role in getting the job done, but how they are integrated and managed determines the impact on overall ROI (return on investment) and simplicity of any photo documentation effort.

It is important to be clear about your objectives for jobsite photography or monitoring. Requirements may vary from job-to-job and can include:

  • Long-term as-built imagery
  • Realtime sharing of status with stakeholders
  • Project management/team visibility
  • Site safety monitoring
  • Site security
  • Marketing

Each of these goals places different requirements on the type of system used for imagery collection.  Fixed jobsite cameras, for example, can provide continuous monitoring in the form of still images taken every few minutes to continuous video recording and streaming. Drone or photography services may only be practical to collect imagery once per day or once per week. Smartphones and tablets are available to nearly every team member and are a very effective tool for imagery collection around the jobsite.  However, smartphones and tablets suffer from not providing a clear and easy method for organizing imagery by job, time, and location.

It is important when deploying any of these collection methods, and especially when deploying multiple collection methods, to have a simple, effective method for organizing, archiving, and sharing collected imagery. There are some emerging trends and capabilities that are making this job simpler and more affordable.

Photo Management Systems that Manage Multiple Imaging Systems

The trend in jobsite photo management systems is to provide a single infrastructure for aggregation, archival, and sharing of jobsite photo documentation. For example, Sensera’s SiteCloud system manages imagery coming from both fixed jobsite cameras and imagery taken with handheld devices using the SitePOV mobile app. The SitePOV app allows the entire jobsite team to collect imagery throughout the day and across the jobsite. The collected mobile images are time, date, and geotagged and automatically organized in SiteCloud with the fixed camera imagery. This requires no action from the user, thereby minimizing the effort to collect the jobsite imagery needed, thus improving jobsite photo documentation quality and efficiency.

Interfaces to BIM and Construction Management Software

Construction management and BIM (building information modeling) software systems such as Autodesk BIM 360, and Procore increasingly provide mechanisms for long-term archival of project photography data. By using a photo-management system such as SiteCloud that is integrated with your BIM/Project management software, this archival can be completely automated. This provides the benefit of integrating all your photo documentation in your BIM/project management software without adding labor. It saves time and improves data integrity.

Photo Documentation a No-brainer Step toward the Automated Jobsite

We all agree that technology is part of the answer to reduce labor, reduce build costs, and improve quality and safety. The question is often “where to start?” Jobsite photo documentation is among the most mature jobsite technology areas, costs have come down considerably, and the benefits are immediate.

As an example, Sensera’s MC26 time-lapse jobsite camera is fully solar powered and wireless, requiring no jobsite Internet or power. It is affordable for projects of any size and can be installed by any GC team member in minutes, and provides fully automated photo management. The SitePOV Android/IOS app provides the team the ability to collect additional jobsite imagery across the site with minimal effort, improving overall photo documentation quality. Sensera’s SiteCloud provides fully automated photo management including archival, sharing, and integration with Autodesk BIM 360, Procore, and Viewpoint, further streamlining workflows and saving you effort and money.

By David Gaw, founder, Sensera Systems