You’ve decided to install a construction camera on your upcoming project, and for good reason. Construction cameras make jobsites safer and more secure, help teams collaborate more efficiently, automate project documentation, and simplify audits and compliance tasks. But selecting the right cameras for your projects isn’t easy — there are many solutions to choose from, and numerous vendors to evaluate.
Just as it’s important to choose the right cameras for your project, it’s critical to choose the right vendor — one that not only delivers on your expectations for quality equipment and advanced features, but a partner who will provide the support you need throughout your project, and ensure your cameras are operating optimally and delivering maximum ROI.
Knowing what questions to ask when talking to construction camera vendors will help you decide which cameras are the best fit for your job, and which vendor will be the best partner throughout your project. Here are 5 key questions to start with:
1. What type of construction camera and associated hardware are appropriate for my job?
Before you start to evaluate vendors, determine what types of cameras you’ll need. You don’t want to go into the evaluation process blind, because a vendor might try to sell products without the full knowledge of your needs and which might not be the best fit for your project.
First, consider your reasons for installing cameras. Are you using them primarily for surveillance and security, or will you also want to integrate them with your project management software to take advantage of collaboration features? Will you be leveraging photos and time lapses for marketing? What features will be important? Remote control? 360-degree views? High-resolution and zoom capabilities?
Here are the most common types of cameras and some of their features:
- A fixed-position camera offers high resolutions, wide viewing angles, and stable operation that’s good for time-laspes. They’re lower-cost than other types of cameras, and are easy to set up and use.
- PTZ — or Pan-Tilt-Zoom — cameras can be controlled remotely via a web browser. They can pan 360 degrees, and some allow for 12X zoom, with no image distortion.
- Indoor cameras are smaller and lighter weight, and therefore easy to mount and use indoors.
- Solar-powered cameras are appropriate for jobsites that lack power access.
- Mobile trailer cameras are wireless and great for DOT projects and other large jobsites.
You may choose to deploy more than one type of camera on your jobsite, depending on your specific needs. For instance, you may place fixed-position cameras at the main entrance for security, PTZ cameras in multiple locations to capture 360-degree views of construction, and an indoor camera at your offsite modular construction facility. But having a rough idea of your choices prior to speaking with vendors will help you narrow your decision and guide the conversation. Our buyer’s guide goes into a bit more detail on types of cameras.
2. What is involved in the installation process?
Knowing how and where you’ll install your cameras is important not only for choosing the right cameras, but for scheduling. Consider the camera’s field of view and the application, and what type of visuals you are planning to capture (time-lapse, still photos, panoramic or live-streaming). Most cameras require 110V AC power, unless they’re solar-powered. Mounting should be simple and straightforward, but make sure your vendor will provide free support if you run into any unusual obstacles. Also, choose a camera solution that offers flexible mounting options, to make sure you’ll be able to place the cameras where optimal viewing is possible.
Installation will vary, depending on the type of camera you choose, but it shouldn’t be rocket science. Many advanced camera solutions are pre-assembled and ready to use, right out of the box. They simply plug into a power source and come online. If a vendor’s solution requires professional installation, that’s a sign that the hardware may be complex, and difficult to install and use.
3. Are there additional charges for added features or upgrades?
It’s unfortunate, but some camera vendors have hidden costs. Make sure the cameras you purchase include all the necessary hardware and cabling to install them, and if you go the solar route, find out if the panel, battery and battery enclosure are also included.
Don’t forget about the software. Modern construction camera solutions include software, and some vendors tack on additional fees for upgrades or support that, over time, can add up and throw your project off-budget. Find out if you’ll be charged to add on new features as they become available, or if you’ll have to pay extra for media hosting or ongoing support.
4. What level of support is available from the construction camera vendor?
Despite the reliability of advanced camera solutions, there are cases where you’ll need support. Perhaps a camera is damaged during construction, or you need help getting up to speed on new software features. Maybe you need a different type of camera in one location and want to swap out the existing one. The level of support your vendor provides will be critical to helping you move your project forward.
Look for a vendor that provides on-going support free of charge, as well support documentation that’s easy to access and understand. Do they have 24×7 and online ticketing? What are their service-level agreements for ticket resolution? Knowing your vendor provides this level of support will give you peace of mind that your cameras will be operational throughout the duration of your project — even if you never need help.
5. How long is my project data stored and what is the cost?
One of the key benefits of having construction cameras on the jobsite is the ability to store video footage and images from your project for future use. Some vendors charge money for this, and worse yet, you lose access to those videos and images if you part ways with the vendor, or they charge you for continued access.
Choose a vendor that will store your media in the cloud free of charge and indefinitely, and make it easy for you to access your images and videos, even after the project’s complete and the cameras are disabled.
TrueLook offers a full array of construction cameras to meet the needs of any construction project. They come ready to install and use out-of-the-box. Feature upgrades and 24×7 support is included, and we’ll keep all your media stored safely in the cloud, free of charge, for as long as you need us to. Watch a demo of TrueLook cameras today, or give us a call for more information.