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Illustration by iStock; Security Management

The Critical Role of the Site Survey

Every reliable physical security system begins with a detailed and efficient site survey. In many ways, site surveys are the foundation of everything—from planning, design, installation, and system documentation to life-cycle maintenance.

Whether documenting and mapping a system’s current state, gathering details and requirements for system upgrades, or visualizing installations to better inform collaboration between partners and organization stakeholders, site surveys can serve several purposes.



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Regardless of the need, the best site surveys reveal the necessary materials and design layout that correspond with an organization’s budget. Surveys can also provide a dynamic, digital as-built drawing for use further down the road—one that includes nearly every aspect of a project’s processes.

However, many organizations find the process burdensome, due to laborious manual processes, miscommunication, expertise gaps, and an overall lack of precision.

Best Practices for Site Surveys

There are several roadblocks that can turn a quick and easy site survey into an unnecessary headache. In the same way that poor preparation can lead to a breakdown in communication and prolong the completion of a site survey, leaning on outdated tools and documentation methods—such as PDFs, paper blueprints, pictures on cell phones, and physical notes—can delay the completion of documentation or requests for proposals.

To bypass these roadblocks, we recommend observing the following best practices to ensure your site surveys are detailed, informed, and streamlined.

  1. Plan ahead. Obtain floor plans or satellite maps ahead of time so you don’t waste time during the actual site survey.
  2. Use a digital platform to capture key details. It can be easy to misplace handwritten notes, but a digital as-built makes it easy to drag-and-drop elements, take installation photos, and capture baseline information.
  3. Collaborate with partners and stakeholders. Along with streamlining collaboration between partners and other stakeholders, a digital platform can also centralize important resources and simplify the visualization of a system’s design.
  4. Automate a bill of materials (BOM) and budgeting. A bill of materials is an extensive—often exhaustive—list of raw materials, parts, and instructions for components needed to create or repair a system. Instead of crunching the numbers yourself, incorporate a digital platform that automates bills of materials, accelerating the proposal creation process and ensuring you don’t exceed budget limitations.

When choosing a qualified technology manager or system integrator, select one with access to a diverse portfolio of devices, as well as a digitalized floorplan in proper scale. This will ensure they examine the most up-to-date infrastructure and support centralizing photos, notes, necessary accessories, and client comments all in one place. The domino effect of a well-documented site survey will be the key to success, resulting in a simplified life-cycle management in the future and digitally secure key resources that are easily accessible for all stakeholders.

At the end of the day, site surveys should make your life easier, not harder.


Christopher Hugman is the CEO and co-founder of System Surveyor and a registered professional engineer. Hugman has several decades of work in system integration under his belt. Today he continues to work on seamless systems management, from concept to system end-of-life. He holds a bachelors degree in electrical engineering and an MBA, both from Southern Methodist University.