Construction companies have increasingly turned to live security Cameras as a replacement to security officers for their sites. It is more reliable, less expensive, can cover larger areas, and in most cases is much more effective than hiring security guards. As long as you have power you can get a video monitoring solution installed. But if you don’t do it right, your site will still be vulnerable.

In the early days of video monitoring, many thought that just by installing cameras their site would be protected and they would not need to worry about anything more. This is not the case and if you don’t understand how the system works you can end up with a false sense of security. Oftentimes security is looked at after there’s been an issue and then it’s a rush to get the system installed by the security companies. This can lead to poor planning, oversights, and further issues down the line.

Here are 5 things that can make your construction security system vulnerable.

1. Lack of Constant & Secure Power

Having power on your site is half the battle – make sure it is constant and secure. For low-rise residential, there are three options: mounting on top of the trailer, onto a temporary pole, or on the streetlight.

Mounting to the trailer is a good option, however, you typically cannot monitor the whole site from the trailer which means that this cannot be the only source of power on a large site.

Temp poles are great because they are typically scattered evenly around the site and you can always find a good spot to mount cameras for optimal coverage. The problem with temporary poles is that different trades are plugging equipment into the outlets and will often trip the breaker which will cut power to the cameras. Also, if a dedicated outlet is not brought up to the top of the pole then you have no choice but to plug in the cameras at the bottom of the pole which leaves it exposed to being unplugged. For the most part, if the temporary pole company can install a plug about 15ft up – dedicated for cameras – then you can avoid the risk of cameras being unplugged (either intentionally or unintentionally). Unfortunately, you cannot totally get rid of the breaker being tripped. The plug above is on the same circuit as the plug below so if the plug below is tripped it will also trip the one above. Moreover, if the outlets are not properly protected, they can be tripped off when it rains or snows which will also cut power to the cameras. And No Power = No Surveillance.

Construction Site Pole being Installed
Poles connected with wires

For high-rise residential or commercial, the luxury of many temporary poles or streetlights don’t exist and getting power can be more challenging. Coverage is typically simple at these sites because they are often a square or rectangular sites; so all you need to do is mount cameras at the 4 corners and you can pretty much get really good coverage. However, power may not be readily available in the area when you need it.

One alternative is to mount to a trailer, if the trailer is located on site. The other option, and typically the only option, is to have an electrician run cable and install outlets around the site. There are some challenges to getting power around these sites, but it can be done.

One of the issues that arises with this type of power is that it is attached to a breaker typically located in an area that is easily accessible. Many trades are plugging equipment into the same circuit and it is inevitable that breakers will trip and knock out the cameras. Site supers need to be more diligent and ensure that traders know not to plug into the same outlets that the cameras are plugged into.

2. Poorly Planned Camera Coverage

Lack of well-planned camera coverage is one of the biggest problems in designing an effective video monitoring system. With a standard 3MP camera, you can see a dump truck lifting its dump bed and dumping its load at about 500-600 FT away – on a sunny day. However, with this camera resolution and from this distance, don’t expect to identify the truck driver, truck license plate, or company name printed in large lettering on the truck. But you will likely be able to identify the colour and type of truck from this distance.

Anything smaller than a dump truck, will pretty much not be possible to be identified at this distance with a 3MP camera which means you will not be able to see if a person with a pickup truck backed into a driveway and loaded up your material onto their truck.

Also, when designing your video monitoring system, pay special attention to ensure there are no blind spots within your site outside the coverage of your surveillance cameras. Cover all entries and exits to your site. Take into consideration the direction of the camera coverage as well as the distance.  Don’t be tempted to cut costs by reducing the number of cameras because you can only monitor as far as the cameras can see on your site.

Keep in mind that surveillance cameras generate a lot of data that is very difficult to sift through manually. This is where you can use video analytics to make your video surveillance more efficient.

Security Camera on Trailer

3. Insufficient Lighting

Statistics prove that vandalism and theft rates are lower in highly visible areas. Ensuring good lighting at your job site will not only deter trespassers and troublemakers, it will also give you an effective security system.

Infographic of Camera Range

It is hard to detect someone snooping around your site on your surveillance system if your site is very dark. Your cameras cannot detect much details e.g. facial features, vehicle details etc. in the dark. Even the best Infra-red cameras will be limited to the distance they can detect objects in the dark. In Low rise residential, Street lights being turned on is a big benefit. Site theft can be drastically reduced just by ensuring good lighting.

Residential Street View Night without Street Lights

Lighting is also important for health and safety. It is common on construction sites for shadows to form, obscuring hazards such as machinery and nails. To avoid any injuries, aim to provide extra lighting around the construction equipment to help illuminate any areas currently in shadow. Lighting should be easily accessible so that maintenance can be carried out and units can be replaced with ease.

4. Lack of Enforcement of Security Protocols

To ensure your video monitoring is effective, you need to plan and carry out security protocols. Your site security monitoring company needs to know the regular working hours for your site. If you will have work outside of your schedule, your monitoring company needs to know.

You need to maintain entry and exit lists accurately. If these protocols are not followed, say if there are unscheduled workers at your site without your monitoring agency’s knowledge, it will trigger false alarms. Once the monitoring station receives an alert, they will call your emergency contact list and if no one responds or are not aware of unscheduled workers being on-site, the police will be dispatched.

False alarm police dispatches can cost you $100-$300 each time. Moreover, multiple false alarms over time and lack of enforcement of security protocols may create a “cry wolf” scenario for your site, causing agents to not take your site incidents so seriously.

5. Lack of Other Security Measures

Your site supervisors need to be diligent in following basic security protocols like locking all gates and ensuring access control, removing valuables like laptops from the site.

Before the project even starts, a security plan should be implemented and communicated with all site workers. A culture of safety and security – including encouraging individuals to report unusual behaviour or discoveries, monitoring sensitive areas, and taking inventory, should be promoted across the site. Have the security plan accessible to everyone and have specific procedures in place that you can enforce.

Identify your valuable assets that might be lucrative for thieves and take regular inventory. This will help you identify vulnerable areas, and also quickly notice if there are assets missing or damaged.

There will always be security threats specific to construction sites that can be difficult to manage. Unprotected sites will have a high risk of theft of equipment and materials.

As you may have already found out the hard way, one stolen piece of equipment from your construction site can shut your job down temporarily, not to mention lead to other issues such as an increase in insurance costs and the possibility that vendors might refuse to rent equipment to organizations that do not properly guard their assets.

You have valuable assets to protect and deadlines to meet, and so your construction site security services should be a well-planned top priority, not an afterthought.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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