8 Steps to Conducting a Successful Site Survey

7 Minute Read

Conducting a site survey for an upcoming security system install or upgrade is a crucial step in the preparation process. A successful site survey will provide you with the answers you need so you can successfully plan and execute security solutions. But a poor site survey can lead to great frustration for you and your clients alike.

Wondering if your site survey process could use some improvement? Consider these 8 essentials for conducting a site survey.

1. Start With a Floorplan When Possible

Before you move any further into the process, the first step is to secure a floorplan of the site you’ll be surveying. Facility floorplans will be the most accurate representation of actual dimensions and may reveal hidden features or obstacles that your team wouldn’t notice on a site visit.

If you’re unable to secure a floorplan, you could use a satellite image from Google Maps. [System Surveyor lets you access Google Maps directly from the app and will auto-set the scale.] Another common option is to take a picture of a fire escape plan. For other ideas of how to get a floorplan, check out our blog post on the topic.

The point here is to get the best possible representation of the building into digital form. With this step complete, you’ll be in a much better place to build out a building security system design.

2. Conduct a Site Visit or Walkthrough

As crucial as it is to start with a floorplan or digital map, make sure you don’t skip the site visit, either. A site visit helps verify that what you Y have on paper matches the reality you see in the building and helps you start designing with your customer or stakeholder.

Walk the site with your customer or stakeholder, collaborating with them on where each device should go. Involving them in this step of the process helps gain their buy-in and trust. Plus, there should be fewer revisions later in the process if they are involved from the beginning.

In some cases, when you conduct the site walk, you’ll be gathering what is already in place. With System Surveyor, you can identify devices, cabling and systems already “in place” and then switch to “proposed”. Often times, this may be the first time your client or stakeholder has a visual, digital map being created for devices which is a valuable digital map for managing the life cycle, not just the procurement of the technology.

3. Know Before You Go

Your site visit has the potential to tell you nearly everything you need to know so you can create an exceptional design and execute a flawless install. Like most things in life, planning of time will help you in the long run.

Spend some time with the floorplan and come up with a physical plan for your walkthrough.

  1. Where do you need to visit, and in what order?
  2. What questions do you need to ask while you have eyes on a particular space?
  3. Are there any aspects of the building floor place or space that are especially unclear or concerning?

Heading to the location without a plan in place is risky – and it could mean the difference between one site visit and multiple.

4. Learn What Every Space Is Used For

When conducting a site survey for the purpose of planning and implementing a security system, make sure you learn what every space is used for. Blueprints and site visits are crucial tools, but they leave many usage-oriented questions unanswered.

Some spaces (restrooms, offices, residence halls) seem straightforward enough in terms of use case. But asking more questions and making fewer assumptions is the way to go here. Only once you know what each space in an office building or campus is used for can you formulate a comprehensive and truly effective physical security system (whether you’re using campus security software or some other method).

5. Catalog Existing Infrastructure (If Any)

If you’re upgrading or outfitting an existing system with new or updated security measures, you typically won’t be starting from scratch. Some of the existing infrastructure may remain. Be sure to document anything electronic that already exists, from access control systems to video surveillance systems, that will be integrated with your new installation. Tools or devices that haven’t reached end-of-life and that integrate with chosen campus security software or integrated building management system software may be worth keeping.

Even if you’re tossing everything electronic that’s part of the old or previous system, you’ll still want to catalog any physical infrastructure that could be reused. Existing cable runs, mounting points, conduits, power connections, network equipment, and more could save time and money — but only if you know they’re there.

6. Document Everything in a Central (Cloud-Backed) Location

Everything that happens before, during, and after your site survey should be documented. And by “documented,” we don’t mean handwritten notes on papers shoved in the backseat. We mean something much more organized and formal: electronic documentation.

Make sure that all information related to a project is documented electronically, in a system design platform or tool (or in integrated building management system software) like System Surveyor

Whatever tool you’re using, the key is to make sure that all that documentation is stored electronically in a central location accessible to everyone who might need it. This is where cloud-based site survey software shine for your digital documentation. Applications such as Dropbox can be challenging as it may not be as easy to access for those that need it on the team. Seek an application built for the project managers, salespeople, technicians and engineers involved – even the subcontractors. Use a permission-based software application that makes this securely available to the right people on your team or extended team.

7. Verify Access Control Needs

A corollary to point 3, be sure to verify what spaces — down to the individual room — need access control. Access control and intrusion detection will be configured and managed separately using security software, so you don’t need to know exactly who needs access to what at this stage. But you do need to know which spaces should be controlled, down to the room.

As a system integrator or a corporate or campus physical security leader, you must get access control and video surveillance installed in the right spaces — and you’ll need to help clients or other department leaders correctly visualize where those controls are and aren’t needed.

8. Use the Right Digital Tools

Our final tip in conducting successful site surveys is to use the right digital tools. With a collaborative system design platform like System Surveyor, you’ll be able to successfully implement many of the steps listed here, from cloud-based centralized documentation to building physical security systems based on blueprints, floorplans, or Google Earth imagery.

System Surveyor empowers you to drag and drop security and IoT devices onto a digital floorplan in real time, dynamically building out a security system design, automated bill of materials and decision-ready proposal your clients in a matter of hours or days, not weeks.

System Surveyor can dramatically increase the value of your site survey – speeding up the sales process and implementation and providing ongoing life cycle management in a digital as-built. Delivering great customer service all starts with a good site survey!

Ready to learn more? Request a demo today!