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Virtual inspections provide a remote eye on key work during pandemic

| GSA Blog Team
Post filed in: Buildings

Every day, GSA employees bring construction projects to life, supporting the building and maintenance of courthouses, land ports of entry and other federal facilities. Much of this work is onsite, working directly with contractors and clients to make the projects a reality. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, much of the critical work necessary to keep construction projects on schedule had to be adapted to the realities of remote work and limited in-person contact to maintain safety.

In May 2020, GSA's Public Buildings Service initiated a one year virtual inspection pilot to test remote inspection technology while minimizing the need for on-site project personnel. The pilot was used on projects nationwide, in every GSA region, spanning a total of 35 projects and 6.6 million square feet of real estate, including two new construction courthouses and a Land Port of Entry. To date, the pilot has captured over 80,000 photos allowing remote GSA, customer and contractor staff to review on-site work and keep projects on schedule. Covering a construction value of $2.2B, the innovative pilot enabled GSA staff to review onsite construction, the implementation of new systems and major developments as projects progressed.

Federal Building

Employing the software application StructionSite, GSA employees at multiple construction projects across the country were able to remotely monitor progress, collaborate to resolve issues, corroborate data, and preview inspections without having to go onsite. StructionSite utilizes 360 degree capable cameras and includes other collaborative features to support efforts such as project inspections, progress payments, quality assurance checks, and documenting of conditions.

For example, at the Social Security Administration Altmeyer Modernization project in Woodlawn, Maryland (photo above), GSA used Remote Image Capture to monitor construction progress, coordinate with GSA fire protection teams, conduct pre-inspection coordination, and document pre close-in conditions and as-built conditions. The project was completed on time and under budget in April 2021.

The Madawaska Land Port of Entry used the technology to share complex and extensive asset and site-existing condition documentation to conduct their pre-solicitation meeting entirely virtual, to more than 140 people. This led to enhanced bid quality and reduced risk and financial exposure for a nearly $50M procurement. The virtual platform allowed the LPOE project to proceed on schedule, with a construction award made in January 2021 to a Massachusetts-based small business. A groundbreaking is scheduled for September 9, 2021.

The virtual inspection pilot provided GSA the ability to test new technology while minimizing the need for onsite personnel. The pilot, which concluded in May 2021, demonstrated a consistent approach to supporting GSA's work in bringing construction projects to life and keeping them on schedule. This technology and GSA's willingness to adapt and innovate has allowed these projects to remain on schedule, test new technology and to deliver projects for PBS and its customer agencies.