– Jeff Herzer, technology project manager for HNTB
We’re dealing with a structure that’s a quarter of a mile wide and more than 400 feet tall. The 18x zoom on the webcam does a great job of bringing in distant details and letting us see activity anywhere on the bridge.
HNTB is an engineering and design firm known and respected for its work in transportation, bridges, aviation, architecture, urban design and planning, environmental engineering, water and construction services with marquee projects such as the Leonard P Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston and Midway Airport in Chicago.
HNTB’s multimedia group in Kansas City, Mo. designs and produces high-quality Web sites, videos and interactive CD/DVD and kiosk programs for a client list that includes more than two dozen state departments of transportation.
The Greenville Bridge project represents a major milestone in the transportation history of the Mississippi Delta region and is a major point of pride for HNTB’s client, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).
HNTB’s multimedia group was commissioned to produce a Web site that would document construction of the new bridge while recognizing the history of the existing bridge (built in 1940) and the culture of the region. HNTB is also producing a one-hour documentary on construction of the bridge for broadcast television.
A TrueLook network Web cam system was installed on a grain elevator 60 ft. above the water on the Arkansas side of the river, about 1/8-mile from the new bridge. Because of the remote location, a wireless Internet connection is used to link the camera to Internet bandwidth at the project offices about 100 yards away.
The TrueLook pan/tilt/zoom dome camera beams live images to greenvillebridge.com visitors, who can take a 360-degree view of the area with 18x zoom using a simple interface that doesn’t require software downloads or plug-ins. Control of the webcam is simultaneously shared by multiple users – even hundreds and thousands at a time – yet each user sees exactly what he or she wants to see and has a unique personal experience without time limits, waiting in line or interruptions by other users.
“Our main concern was having a webcam that could give people meaningful views across the entire construction site,” says Jeff Herzer, technology project manager for HNTB and the writer/producer for the Greenville Bridge Web site and television documentary. “We’re dealing with a structure that’s a quarter of a mile wide and more than 400 feet tall. The 18x zoom on the webcam does a great job of bringing in distant details and letting us see activity anywhere on the bridge. It was also very important for us to give users the ability to look upstream at the old 1940 bridge.”
Herzer has also been using TrueLook’s “scheduled shot” feature to create time-lapse videos of construction. “We’ve got the camera programmed to capture images every 20 minutes, ten hours every day,” says Herzer. “The JPEG image sets we download from the TrueLook server can be imported directly into our Avid editing system to create time-lapse sequences. That’s a great value-added from a webcam system.”
The Greenville Bridge website (http://www.greenvillebridge.com) drew as many as 700 visitors a day interested in watching the progress of the project. The camera has served more than 500 thousand images over the past three years with a 14 percent growth in unique users and images in the second year, and a 30 percent growth is unique users and 20 percent growth in images in the third year of operation. This track record indicates the webwam is a very “sticky” multimedia solution that brings visitors back to the Web site again and again, and keeps them there for longer periods of time than a static Web site would.
TrueLook also acts as a marketing tool with patented LIVECards, which enable users to capture photos and e-mail them to friends and colleagues. The image in the e-mail links recipients directly back to the live camera in the same location as the picture was taken so they can view the bridge themselves. Two-hundred percent of the LIVEcards that have been sent by Greenville Bridge camera viewers have been clicked on to go to the live camera indicating that recipients are either clicking on them more than once, or that they are forwarding the cards on to additional people.