Piling Canada

Monitoring, Recording, Promotion – Oh My!

Cameras for jobsites increase safety and security for all, among other benefits
Written by Rebecca Henderson
July 2022

Photos: dotworkz

Live jobsite video feeds have become the go-to medium for industries to communicate their operations, services and products. For the construction industry, it’s also a way to manage work quality, risk of theft, staff shortages and rising gas prices.

“There’s a great deal of the day-to-day management that goes on with contractors and vendors around scheduling and deliveries, so leveraging high-definition camera systems on a jobsite is almost a must-have,” said HD Relay’s founder Will Ferris. HD Relay offers construction jobsite monitoring, recording and promotion throughout North America. “When a lot is riding on deadlines, performance and staffing issues, the camera can streamline processes and be a great tool for accountability and transparency on the jobsite.”

Using a built-in cellular connection, Ferris says HD Relay’s concept aimed to reduce the excess travel time required for people to travel from point A to point B to see an attraction.

“I started the company using cameras to bring popular surfing conditions and ski hills to the internet before streaming became mainstream,” he said. “I wanted this type of visual information to be available to people no matter where they are.”

Since then, its live-streaming services evolved to include other industries such as golf resorts, water management and construction – to name a few – which Ferris says was a natural fit. HD Relay has now provided and managed construction cameras for 23 years.

“If you need to know whether your team is on-site for a particular concrete pour, you can see that in real-time,” he said. “In the same mode, there’s no reason why you can’t have security grade footage – stored long term – of what’s happening or has happened at that jobsite.”

Ferris says HD Relay’s systems supply long-term recording possibilities – an uncommon option compared to other providers that offer similar services.

“Having that record from start to finish is necessary,” he said. “It’s something that we do specifically for the construction industry. Whether the project takes six months or two years, it’s crucial to have a video recording of its progression.”

HD Relay has three camera systems it offers to the construction industry: the Panoramic Zoom Camera, a Static Camera and a Close-Range Camera.

“Sometimes, if there is a budgetary constraint or some physical issues such as power, bad cell connections or something where you need to see things from a wider area,” said Ferris, “our Panoramic Zoom Camera can offer a lot of control to look over the entire jobsite. So, if you need to zoom in more or pan the camera over more, or look higher up from a further distance, the controllable panoramic is the right choice.”

The Panoramic Zoom Camera can also deliver 64×64 high-definition (HD) images that the team stitches together to create an ultra-HD panoramic image of the jobsite. Meanwhile, the Static Camera offers the same system, but is closer to the action.

“If a client’s mounting location focuses on one process,” said Ferris, “like pouring concrete, that’s the foundation of this building, so you want details and a closer action shot of the jobsite.”

Even though the Static Camera doesn’t pan or tilt, it has a higher resolution to acquire a more complete view of a group or activity on the jobsite.

Finally, HD Relay has the close-range camera that can be used at a wider angle for indoor environments or repositioned throughout the job’s progress.

“We have three systems to suit different clients’ needs,” he said.

Ferris says each system can withstand extreme low light and erratic weather.

“We built these systems to offer a high-definition, low noise and clear recording of mountains and ski hills. So they can resist failing in intense environments. A big misconception is that any camera will do. We see this all the time with small, cheap hardware on jobsites.”

For many in construction, the labour shortage has stretched the workforce thin. However, cameras can help limit some of the insufficiencies left by unfilled positions.

“You get that security grade footage so that if there is an accident, insurance claim or a theft,” said Ferris, “you will be able to see it in a two- to three-second delay from the jobsite.”

Ferris says HD security footage can be viewed or downloaded from anywhere, and it’s easily navigated in real-time with the fast-forward playback feature.

While users have immediate access to recordings, HD Relay stores a higher quality version on their internal servers, says Ferris.

“We have that footage on our servers as needed. It makes going back and looking at the archives relatively easy,” he said.

Ferris says these higher quality videos can also provide marketing opportunities. HD Relay offers free post-production videos to create a mesmerizing, fast-paced recording of the jobsite, from breaking ground to breaking the skyline.

“The time-lapse is a secondary feature of the recording, but a great opportunity for the marketing team,” said Ferris. “It’s an authentic way to promote your company and your staff’s work ethic to future employers.

“Clients just have to tap a button on their phone to download the time-lapse video. It’s super easy. Even easier is if you need footage of an event or specific issue, you can just call or text us.”

Users can control the camera’s focus from their iPhone or Android device.

“There are features people will want to use like zoom-in, tilt or control the camera a certain way from their phone. You can also download, transfer and share the video.”

Ferris says that the installation of HD Relay’s camera system is simple: “Just add power.”

At the same time, he says, the team can assist with all aspects of the installation, from mapping out a place to mounting the camera, as they want to make it as easy as possible for the user.

“We try to offer an intuitive system,” he said. “We do not expect anyone to be a camera expert when using our systems.”

Ferris says if a camera goes down unexpectedly or lightning strikes, the management side of HD Relay’s team knows this instantly.

“We’re in charge of the cameras if they require it. We don’t expect anyone onsite or on the project management side to be a camera specialist,” he said.

“We wouldn’t expect anyone to control the camera angles as well as we do or be able to pull footage down if the internet is down. If anyone needs us, they can call or email, and we can do those tasks for them.”

Still, one of the barriers to investing in construction site recording services is often the price tag. Ferris said this is no longer the case.

“Cost-effective 4G cellular technology is relatively new,” he said. “In the world of cloud-based recording, even the 4G uplink is very affordable.”

Ferris says live recording services that used to cost hundreds of dollars to uplink from a jobsite now cost under $50 to $60 a month.

“Leveraging a camera service specialist is a more attainable investment for even the smaller construction groups now,” he said. “We have to change the perception that only large firms can afford high-quality resolution livestreaming because this is a great system to have on-site.” Piling Canada

Category: Business

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

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