With some construction workers on the jobsite, others in the office, and additional staff at remote locations, using technology to improve communication becomes essential in construction. Add other project team members, such as owners, architects, and engineers, into the equation and efficient project communication can be a challenge—that is unless you have the right technology tools to get the job done.

One way technology is helping make communications work for the construction industry is by allowing equipment at the jobsite to communicate with the backoffice. For example, Caterpillar, www.cat.com, Peoria, Ill., provides heavy equipment that’s deployed around the world for a wide variety of uses. In many cases, data from equipment needs to be transmitted back to a central office. To ensure this process works smoothly, Caterpillar is making use of M2M communications technology.

Caterpillar is using a product from CalAmp Corp., www.calamp.com, Oxnard, Calif., a provider of wireless services and solutions. CalAmp’s ruggedized wireless routers will allow data communications from equipment to be transmitted worldwide. A customized version of the Vanguard mobile wireless broadband router offers connectivity with multiple carriers on both CDMA and GSM networks, as well as a satellite option for use in remote areas where cellular coverage may not be available.

Construction spending is increasing, which could indicate a time when companies are interested in looking at technology solutions. The U.S. Census Bureau of the Dept. of Commerce recently said construction spending during December 2012 rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $885 billion, which is 0.9% above the revised November estimate and 7.8% above the December 2011 estimate. The department also said the value of construction in 2012 was $850.2 billion, 9.2% above the $778.2 billion spent in 2011.

Spending on technology can pay dividends in increased communication and efficiency. While we often think of communication in terms of data, text, or voice, construction industry personnel may also have the need for video communications. When working on a project, video documentation can be important for record-keeping, monitoring progress, and security. EarthCam, www.earthcam.net, Hackensack, N.J., provides connected-camera solutions to the construction industry and recently announced updates to its products.

EarthCam’s Control Center 7 software Version 7.10 offers battery backup that will kick in during a connectivity loss. If Internet connectivity is lost, the memory backup system will continue to archive images until the camera is back online. It will then automatically upload the stored images. The software also allows for live streaming video, time-lapse movies of a completed project, and users can control and share their cameras from their mobile devices.

For construction workers moving from site to site, remote access can be beneficial. The need may arise to look in on a jobsite miles away. An app for iOS and Android gives users the ability to access the camera system via a smartphone or tablet. Users can then view live video, share the archives, and receive weather data and battery updates. Workers can control cameras around the world in realtime via Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G networks.

More communication alternatives are useful in the construction industry. As technologies advance, contractors have more options for sharing content between the jobsite and the office.