March 22, 2021

How Visual Documentation Has Changed Construction

Nicholas Muir

Even in the early age of construction photo and video documentation to date, the industry has already experienced new types of technologies that impact the value of onsite documentation in unique ways.

Construction owners have relied on video and photo documentation heavily in the last 5 – 10 years, as profitability and scheduling continue to shape the success or failure of a project in the ever-competitive construction landscape.

From a technology standpoint, there are two core ways that photo and video documentation have been used in the recent past namely CCTV’s & Drones.

To be fair, there are advantages and disadvantages across both. However, at OnSiteIQ we believe the 360 Walkthrough Cams provide the best, most consistent, transparent, and most relevant data for owners to make decisions. You will see at the end of the article that the technological prowess of 360 walkthrough cams are unmatched.

Furthermore, when reading this article, we encourage owners to consider all of their technology options by asking themselves of the following considerations:

  1. How do I gain presence on the project?
  2. How relevant is the data?
  3. How timely is the data?
  4. What are the ongoing and/or initiation costs associated with each technology?
  5. How do I gain control in preventing and / reducing the cost of change orders?
  6. How can I minimize schedule days and have more predictability on finishing on time, or even ahead of time?

The Advantages and Disadvantages of CCTV’s

The CCTV camera, which spelled out stands for closed-circuit television, are your classic security cameras that you often see in the corner ceiling of parking garages. CCTV’s are not foreign to construction sites, as they have long been used to both monitor the progress and security of their construction site.

Therein lies the core advantages of CCTVs:

  1. Security Purposes: By having security CCTV cameras you will have a good security tool for your site. In construction the value of materials cannot be understated, and so having security cameras on site can both prevent and catch theft from the site, or damage done to the property.
  2. Progress: Often, CCTV’s leverage wide-angle lenses which is great for establishing a wide view of the construction site. If nothing else, owners and developers can watch their site being built through CCTV cameras.
  3. Dynamic: CCTV cameras are often weatherproof, offer live viewing, and can conduct time-lapses which help owners fast forward through the hours of footage that can be irrelevant to get to the impactful moments they need to witness.

While it’s inarguable that CCTV cameras offer many advantages, there are clear disadvantages that have come to the forefront as technology like OnSiteIQ’s walkthrough and artificial intelligence technology emerged. These disadvantages include:

  1. Robust and Expensive: In order to even sniff the level of detail that OnSiteIQ’s 360 walkthrough offers, an owner would need to implement 100’s of multiple CCTV cameras. Not to mention the infrastructure and management of the cameras, This can quickly run up the costs, making CCTV cameras very expensive to implement and maintain on a jobsite. Even then they fall way short of the context offered by the 360 walkthrough camera.
  2. Static: Like disadvantage #1 indicates, the core limitation of these cameras is in their static movement. Once the angle is set on any given CCTV camera, that is the angle you’re stuck with until manually adjusted by a camera operator. This can lead to the CCTV cameras omitting key images and detail, and creating blind spots that can leave a site vulnerable to theft or property damage. The images are not consistent and provide hardly any context to the performance and schedule progress of the project. Furthermore, during construction each camera will have to be moved from position to position as construction progresses.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Drones

Drones have become a staple in the video production and construction documentation industry because of their unprecedented ability to capture a bird’s eye view without requiring a helicopter or plane.

The rapid evolution of drones over the last two decades has recently infiltrated the construction industry, and has been strategically used by owners to enhance their job site.

The core advantages of drones for construction documentation include:

  1. Mapping: Drones can map GPS points on a construction site, giving owners a better sense of its progress. This bird’s eye visual data can create a great aerial view of progress compared to ground level cameras.
  2. Safety: Being able to use a drone for construction, and subsequently get above eye level, can help identify potential safety hazards. This could be anything from landscape concerns, to equipment storage.

Again, it would be wrong to say that drones don’t offer an advantage to construction owners. However, they are inherently limited, and can often be more trouble than they are worth.

Some of the disadvantages of drones for construction include:

  1. Expensive: Drones don’t come easily. In order to get a drone over a site, you must pay the day rate for the drone and the drone operator. Sometimes, depending on the drone or location of your job site, you must also pay for special insurance or special permitting and these can both be very costly.
  2. Timeliness: Unlike 360 walkthrough technology, drone footage can only be attained when an operator is flying the drone and collecting the footage. This means that the data is only as good as the specific time that operator flew the drone, which lends itself to omitting key details from the many other hours the construction site was active, and a drone was not.
  3. Limited: Drones can only capture exterior footage, meaning the details of the build happening within the walls and under the roof will be missed in drone footage. Furthermore, most drone operators are not construction experts. They do not know what to look for, as their expertise is in drone flying. This lends itself to drone operators missing key details of the construction site, or not even knowing where to look in the first place. Lastly, drones can’t open doors and can run the risk of getting caught in hanging / loose pipes and wires.

Why 360 Walkthrough Technology Provides the Best Data for Construction Documentation

OnSiteIQ’s 360 walkthrough technology, from its onset to its current state today, has always looked to provide the unique values of real-time data, full coverage, and affordability.

  1. Real-time data: Unlike drones, the 360 walkthrough is covering every square foot, every week of the construction site and the owner has access to the uploaded video walkthrough within 16 – 20 hours of the data collection walkthrough. Owners are experiencing more obstacles and more delays than ever before in the age of COVID, and so having the real-time information helps assist decision-making in a positive way individually or in a collaborative setting with the teams
  2. Full Coverage: Unlike drones and CCTV cameras, 360 walkthrough cams are able to capture the interior and exterior of a job site, and offer movement which CCTVs cannot offer in their static state. The granular accuracy nature and regular frequency of the data OnSiteIQ’s technology captures cannot be competed with. For example, if an owner wants to see the progress of any element or trade with an AI-supported assessment of the progress of that installation, OnSiteIQ delivers that, immediately and weekly. With CCTV cameras you’ll have to watch hours of footage to find the moment you’re looking for, or alternatively hire an expensive drone operator to get an overhead shot instead. The accessibility of OnSiteIQ to any part of a construction site cannot be matched.
  3. Affordable: OnSiteIQ is much less labor intensive, as owners can enjoy granular data with a touch of a button. Candidly, we are a lot more affordable. The data will be much more relevant, as OnSiteIQ’s team is a group of construction experts who know the value of the proper angle, at the proper place in a construction site. Once the cameras are set up, and the AI integration is initiated, your job site is fully covered, every week.


As an owner, you probably have a short list of priorities. These might include:

  1. Budget forecast, cash flow and profitability
  2. Schedule Change Orders and Claims
  3. Safety and security

OnSiteIQ offers the industry’s best solution to keeping real-time cameras on your job site. Your priorities are our priorities, and you will see how the 360 walkthrough cameras by OnSiteIQ bring peace of mind to owners and developers. Request a demo today!