Virtual Inspections through Visual Progress Reporting

After we've made it through COVID-19, there's little doubt that we'll have found better methods to do things. Many municipalities are already using re

After we’ve made it through COVID-19, there’s little doubt that we’ll have found better methods to do things. Many municipalities are already using remote monitoring and inspection tools to keep construction on schedule. Yet video checks are only the beginning. The capability to take 360-degree photographs has advanced to the point where it can streamline site inspections without lowering quality standards.
To close the distance, even a small piece of technology can help.

According to a recent webinar presented by the International Code Council, 93% of building departments still carry out inspections. Most are adopting strategies for creating psychological distance, such as limiting their procedures to external inspections of just certain types of projects. 60% of respondents claimed they can’t support remote inspections right now.

The International Code Council made recommendations for cities to begin using video for site inspections, with the goal of facilitating the transition toward virtual inspections. They also mentioned the possibility that virtual site inspections may become standard procedure after COVID-19.

How has this practice evolved?

Previously, building inspectors only manually assessed a structure’s condition. Thermographic imaging now permits inspectors to see things that the naked eye could never detect. Insulation problems in the ceiling and walls, plumbing leaks, and HVAC (heating and cooling) ductwork leaks can all be located with the use of thermal imaging.

Issues that would have previously needed water moisture metres, thermometers, or invasive inspection by tearing items out can now be seen with the use of an infrared camera and the proper software.

As a result of using thermal imaging, you won’t have to risk your safety by climbing up on a ladder or strolling about on a roof.

With visual inspection, construction companies can take their progress reporting to the next level – saving on time and money, and aligning multiple stakeholders within one team. It can also increase accountability and give one universal view.

A few examples of how inspectors are actually performing site visits are shown below.

Online video meetings

Virtual inspections are performed using this program more than any other. There is a need for a solution that guarantees the privacy of the information passed between the contractor and the inspector. In some cases, they may even insist that an on-site video be taken for later use. Video conferencing apps make it easy for contractors to do simple measurements and field testing in front of an inspector, should that become necessary. However, the video inspection cannot proceed unless the video conferencing equipment is of a sufficient quality that allows the footage to be studied remotely.

Drones

Even while video conferencing software is utilized for many virtual inspections, drone-driven building inspections are quickly becoming the norm. Drones are now able to fly for longer periods of time and in harsher environments because of improvements in the architecture of metal-core printed circuit boards (PCBs). So, they are perfect for checking on locations that are all by themselves and located in places where regular building inspectors can’t get quickly.

They are also useful for checking the roofs and ceilings of dilapidated structures that are out of reach. Drones, thanks to their high-quality cameras, may capture imagery that is superior to most other devices.

Beyond Visual Line of Sight and Remote Inspecting

One of the biggest accomplishments of the drone sector to date is BVLOS, or flight beyond the pilot’s line of sight. The range of a BVLOS flight is greater than that of a standard VLOS flight. This may be a very helpful addition for remote inspections, especially for larger sites or taller buildings. A faster examination is possible because the inspector and the pilot helping them won’t have to shift their setup across the area.

Nevertheless, despite these advantages, BVLOS flights are still not considered lawful in many countries. Only in the past few years has it become legal to fly a BVLOS drone over the country for the first time.

Among these are not only plumbers and Amazon’s fleet of delivery drones, but also other service professionals. This category can also include inspectors, whose work typically necessitates their physical presence at the place being inspected. Assuming BVLOS is eventually legalized everywhere (a slow process, to be sure), inspections can be performed more readily in inaccessible areas as well.

Self-inspections

In addition to the fact that not all homes will have access to a private internet connection, the quality of the video streamed in real time via a live conference app is variable. Start-ups in the technology sector, however, have an answer. Contractors can now conduct self-inspections of their work sites with the help of software developed by private enterprises. Later, they can use the same platform to have an inspector remotely approve the files.

Current challenges in implementing

Still, there are bounds to what can be achieved. During the examination, the platform you are using must have stable Wi-Fi coverage and connectivity. In their summary of the International Code Council’s webinar, the team raised other issues, such as the difficulty some inspectors have with technology and the difficulty of communicating inspection needs and scheduling.

Some may find it difficult to record the video and use it as a documentation of the inspection, especially in places where paper and picture records were the norm.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that the construction sector has a poor track record of embracing change, we now depend on cutting-edge tools more than ever to meet our demanding production goals. The site inspection process isn’t the only one evolving. To better accept modern technologies, cities are revising their permit application and electronic procurement procedures.
Site inspections may be made better with the use of existing technologies. It’s a stopgap measure for the present that will also aid in the formulation of a future operational procedure.

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