Beyond Project Monitoring: Promoting Projects with Construction Cameras
BY CHANDLER MCCORMACK, OXBLUE CEO
The same construction camera a general contractor or project owner uses to document the build and remotely monitor the jobsite can – and should be – a powerful tool for your marketing and public relations.
When construction cameras first appeared on the scene, back in the early 2000s, the big draw for GCs, project owners, and their teams was the ability to monitor progress even when they were nowhere near the site. Remote jobsite visibility is and always will be a tremendous benefit of construction cameras, but a lot has changed since their advent, from the cameras and related technology to the ways that businesses communicate with each other and with the larger community. The intersection is the construction camera’s ability to help construction professionals promote their work, publicize projects and reach large audiences.
A QUICK LOOK AT CONSTRUCTION CAMERAS AND RELATED TECHNOLOGY
Think of a camera at a jobsite. For a lot of people, video comes to mind. Video works fine for security surveillance, but for remote project monitoring and marketing, still photos provide more information and are easier to use. Although many factors are involved in camera utility and user experience, the three that follow cover the basics.
Crystal clear high-resolution images
Until recently, construction cameras ranged from six to 24 megapixels. Now some go as high as 50 megapixels. The high-resolution photos they take provide a complete visual document of the project. Users who are monitoring quality and tracking progress at the jobsite zoom in on the images to get a clear view of work done 10 minutes ago, last week, or at any time during the project.
High-definition time-lapse construction movies
High-definition time-lapse movies depict months, even years, of work on a project in just a minute or two. Some providers have algorithms that automatically select the best jobsite images and stitch them together to produce the time-lapse movies. Some construction camera providers also offer professional time-lapse production.
RESPONSIVE WEB-BASED USER INTERFACE
A web-based interface enables users to access and interact with jobsite imagery using office workstations, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It provides the features and functions users need to locate, view and compare jobsite photos and to generate and view time-lapse movies. It’s also what turns a construction camera into a dynamic marketing and public relations tool.
EASILY REACH AUDIENCES WHERE THEY LIVE – ON THE WEB
These days it’s not enough to launch a company website and call it a day. Content needs to be kept up to date. What does it say about your company if the last project featured was several years ago? Plus, a company’s web presence today needs to go beyond its website. To reach potential investors and clients, marketing and public relations efforts need to extend across digital channels, like YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook.
That’s precisely where the construction camera and web-based user interface come in. High-resolution images and high-definition time-lapse movies of projects can be easily integrated into a company website and posted on social media. Depending on the functionality of the user interface, the options for displaying jobsite imagery are many, ranging from the latest time-lapse movie of the project to a photographic timeline of project milestones – even a gallery of recent projects. High-quality jobsite imagery captured by the construction camera provides a steady supply of web content that’s current, relevant and engaging.
HIGH-DEFINITION TIME-LAPSE MOVIES SPEAK VOLUMES
While tools for automated time-lapse movie generation vary in sophistication, some allow users to quickly and easily generate custom presentation-quality time-lapses. Showing a prospective client or investor the magnitude of work involved in a project and how well it was executed lends an impact to meetings that mere words (or charts, graphs and spreadsheets) can’t. Time-lapse movies professionally produced by the provider can even be included in bid materials submitted for similar projects.
Time-lapse movies, as well as still images of the project, can also be shown on a lobby flat-screen for all visitors to the office to see.
GO LIVE WITH THE CAMERA FOR GOOD WILL AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
The impact of high-profile building or transportation projects often extends far beyond the construction site. For area residents, business owners and commuters, a project can be met with a mix of anticipation of what’s to come and annoyance at dealing with detours, traffic tie-ups, and other inconveniences in the meantime.
Giving the local community virtual access to the jobsite lets them feel more connected and invested in the project. By making access to the camera interface public on the web, people can check in whenever they want for updates on progress. For high-profile tenancy buildings, especially mixed residential and retail, the camera can do a lot of promotional heavy lifting, drumming up interest in the building well before the doors are ready to open.
Sometimes "the affected community" isn’t even near the construction site. Public-access cameras documenting sport stadium projects can get a million views from fans anywhere in the country who are eagerly anticipating a favorite team hitting the field in their new home.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CONSTRUCTION CAMERA
In the kitchen and in the workshop, the best tools are the ones that are easiest to use and still get the job done. The same is true for construction cameras. Along with high-resolution photos and the ability to generate high-definition time-lapse movies, look for a camera interface that serves both monitoring and marketing purposes without requiring users to have special skills in IT or web design. The interface should be easy to integrate with websites and social media sites and allow the option of public access on the web. If it also allows branding with your company logo, all the better.
Chandler McCormack is co-founder and CEO of OxBlue. When working as a civil engineer, McCormack recognized how remote visual access to construction projects could reduce project costs, improve efficiency and quality and help keep projects on schedule. Today, OxBlue provides construction cameras, service and support to general contractors and project owners to bring new efficiency to project documentation, management, and marketing.