Construction site theft is a billion dollar a year problem and growing, according to a report from the National Equipment Register. With the cost of materials like lumber and copper at or near record highs, general contractors and builders cannot afford to take security lightly. Often, it is not the loss of materials that comes as the greatest hit to the budget, but instead it is interruptions in operational continuity.
When it comes to protecting construction sites from an attack, a range of options from CCTV systems to 24-hour security guards are often deployed. However, CCTV security installations have typically focused on “inside the perimeter” protection and often lack the teeth needed to be a deterrent. That is changing with new mobile security trailers, loaded with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) monitoring capabilities which can greatly expand the scope of on-site security. Plus, these smart systems are also proving to add operational efficiencies.
On top of the surge in criminal activities targeting the construction industry is the nationwide shortage of law enforcement. This has the potential to increase response times and puts additional pressure on job sites to fortify their security practices.
“As a solution to this issue, the introduction of mobile security trailers presents a timely opportunity to proactively detect potential security threats before they escalate into more severe situations,” explains Cameron Simon, senior vice president of industrials, technology & services for Stallion Infrastructure Services, a leader in mobile security, video surveillance and communications services.
Mobile security trailers, which have become common in retail parking lots in recent years, are now increasingly the go-to equipment for the construction industry as well. Made up of a trailer armed with high-definition cameras attached to an extendable mast and powered by solar panels, these systems can be quickly deployed and set up in minutes. They can also be repositioned as threat profiles change.
Mobile security trailers are not new, but sophisticated data analytics is changing how these intelligent systems operate and is enabling a more efficient approach to securing a jobsite.
According to Simon, the current trend in construction is reminiscent of the retail industry’s surveillance practices. While it has been a customary practice to install numerous cameras inside stores, businesses are now equally keen on monitoring the activities of individuals in the parking lot perimeter or access points before they even enter the premises.
The latest AI-enabled technology provides an opportunity for companies to have real-time, continuous monitoring of their projects, people, assets, and environment. This may include identifying whether or not someone is brandishing a weapon which is now possible with advanced AI systems. These systems can also alert on vehicles, people, and motorcycles as well as spot smoke and fire—which are always a concern at any project.
For the construction industry, stopping a potential attack, theft, or property damage is a real concern, yet it is the potential loss of uptime or business continuity that keeps operators pushing out more security trailers onto their properties.
“Recently, we deployed at a remote facility where some expensive assets were staged for an upcoming project. Someone came in attempting to steal some electronics,” explains Simon “It was a couple of hundred-thousand-dollars-worth of equipment that we prevented from being stolen.
Stallion’s advanced analytics detected the intruder before he entered the property, then the virtual-guard monitoring team took over, coordinating with the on-site customer team to proactively apprehend the thief, preventing the crime and potential losses.
“When you look at the construction space specifically, the real value is not just stopping someone from stealing some expensive windows, it is much more about managing a project timeline,” explains Simon.
The replacement of the windows, while costly, may be just a small amount when compared to the domino effect of having to then push back other aspects of the project which are dependent on the windows being installed.
“Now they’re not on time, not on budget, and the contractor cannot fulfill his contract,” adds Simon. “The losses can be enormous.”
The way in which security monitoring trailers are rolled out is in stark contrast to that of traditional CCTV which was built and designed to be fixed installations that often blended into the surroundings.
Simon emphasizes the significance of deterrence as the primary defense against potential security threats. Traditional CCTV cameras often act as passive observers, but with the introduction of mobile security trailers, the situation is different.
These trailers are highly visible, sending a clear message that they are actively monitoring the area. The aim is to make people aware of their presence, ensuring that potential wrongdoers are discouraged from carrying out any illicit activities.
Popular deterrent features include motion-activated strobe lights and talk-down speakers that can announce that police or security has been alerted to someone’s presence.
“At the same time those on-trailer features take action, an alert gets sent to a central monitoring center where trained professionals take over for AI,” says Simon. “They can then quickly review the incident and determine actionable next steps in real time.”
Those next steps are typically customized for each facility and may include contacting security guards, local police, or customer representatives.
Beyond just security, the AI systems on the advanced monitoring trailers can also provide operational efficiencies. For example, it could be as simple as alleviating congestion from multiple deliveries that occur at the same time. It can also be heat mapping of activities to make changes to operational workflows.
“There are some jobsites that simply need an extra set of eyes out there looking out for environmental exposures, spills or failures on a piece of equipment,” adds Simon. “These advanced systems are not limited to just anti-theft or anti-vandalism.”
About the Author:
Greg Rankin is a Houston-based freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing about technology, security, and industrial operations. Stallion Infrastructure Services is a single-source provider of security, comfort, and connectivity for the construction industry. The company provides a streamlined procurement process for temporary infrastructure. This includes temporary office space with all the luxuries of a downtown office, including power generation, lighting, sanitation services, communications, and connectivity, as well as security surveillance and monitoring. For more, visit stallionis.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2023
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