Revit for Surveillance Examined

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 05, 2013

Large construction projects require constant communication among all trades, including security installers. Most are totally reliant on others to keep them informed on project changes, and even simple errors in construction design can bring a host of costly changeorders. Taking CAD a step deeper, Autodesk's claims its Revit platform can prevent communication errors, make finding them easy, and help trades like Security Installers do their job right the first time, with no surprises. In this note, we examine Revit to see if these claims bear out.

What is Revit?

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Comments (9)

We've had architects/engineers use Revit for large projects and integrate with the access, alarm and video portions.

In one recent building construction, we had over 50 cameras, but only 3 types. At one point, we changed brands, and 44 of the cameras got changed with one change in Revit.

The PC Hardware requirement specs are outlandish, and if you plan on using Revit files across the network (it's not very useful if you don't), then the network needs are quite high.

For other projects, we have used CAD or even Visio for drawings.

We use AutoCAD all of the time for our camera, cabling and other equipment layouts. During our recent remodel the architects insisted we provide them with Revit camera layouts.

HAH! It wasn't going to happen. We don't own it; wouldn't know how to use it; can't give camera layouts before the floor is laid out and have learned over the years that even the most well-thought-out floor layouts change multiple times before a project is completed.

Carl: The old proverb 'Garbage In, Garbage Out' certainly resonates with many conceptual designs!

No matter how detailed a 3D model may be, if it is built with poor assumptions or detail, it isn't going to be very useful.

My company does almost exclusively new construction. As such, I work in both AutoCAD and Revit a lot. One of the things I like to do when I do a security project in Revit is to create rendered 3D views for each camera in the project and put them in the drawing package. Here is an example.

When I am able to do this, the response I get back from both owners and integrators has been 100% positive.

That being said, if you're not an A/E or an integrator doing a lot of new construction projects, then Revit is probably too expensive and too steep a learning curve to make it worthwhile. You can't buy Revit, play around with it for a few days, and expect to become even minimally proficient. It's a very difficult program to master.

Axis now offers a free camera view tool that works with Revit that looks like it will produce output similar what Richard shows above. Link: http://www.axis.com/tools/ I have not used it as I do not have Revit, so I cannot comment on it. They do have a video on their site showing how it works.

Richard: Can you please share how long does it take to learn Revit properly?

Richard, Have you ever done a before and after comparison of projected and actual camera views? How close to reality were the projections?

Andy,

The camera views in the drawings are mainly just to show the desired field of view of each camera, not to represent the image quality (resolution, compression levels, etc.). Their primary purpose is to answer the question, "What is this camera supposed to be looking at?" In that regard, my experience has been that the actual views are pretty close to what the projected views show. The image in the drawings gives the integrator a very good idea of what I want to see in the camera views and they are able to get that field of view pretty reliably. Of course, it depends quite a bit on the accuracy of the architect's model and if things change significantly between when the drawings are issued and when the cameras are installed. (Nothing is worse than specifying a camera to look at a particular door and then, when it's time to install the camera, find that the architect has moved the door and the camera can't see it.) In most cases though, I've found that there are fewer changes during construction in Revit projects than in similar projects done only in ACAD. That's kind of the point of Revit and BIM in general - to get all of the decisions made and find all of the conflicts/problems before the physical building gets built.

One thing to note though is that you still need to rely on your experience for a lot of things, (i.e. required resolution, lens selection, effect of lighting, sunlight, low light conditions, etc.). For example, in the images above, the Lobby and Exhibit Hall face south, meaning that they will often get strong, direct sunlight coming in through the glass wall. I knew that I needed a camera with strong WDR performance in those locations. There's nothing in Revit that will tell me that or make that decision for me.

I'm excited about the Axis Camera Families that they now offer since that tool seems to include features that assist you in selecting the appropriate resolution, lens, mounting accessories, etc. I have not had a chance to use them yet, but they seem to be an order of magnitude beyond what other manufacturers have to offer, which range from completely unusable to rudimentary at best (if they offer anything at all).

Max,

It’s difficult to answer how long it takes to become proficient in Revit. It really depends on what you need to do. It’s a huge program with a huge amount of features / capabilities. I've been using Revit since 2009 and, while I’m proficient enough to do what I need to for my job, I've barely scratched the surface of its capabilities. I know Revit well enough to realize how much I don’t know. Luckily, most users won’t ever need to use 75 – 80% if it’s capabilities as those will be utilized mainly by architects, structural engineers, MEP engineers, etc.

A new user could probably get to the level I’m at in 2 -3 weeks of focused instruction, study and experimentation. The big piece I’m missing in my Revit skillset is proficiency in building Revit families. Families are the basic building blocks in Revit and they can get very complicated. When our company first started using Revit, we started down the path of everyone learning how to create custom families, thinking it would be similar to creating blocks in AutoCAD. Wrong. We quickly learned it was much more complicated and too much of a time commitment to have everyone learn it. As such, we have a couple of guys at our company that have focused on that and build all of the custom families for the rest of us to use. I can’t be sure how long it would take to get to be good at that, since I haven’t personally gone through that learning curve, but I’d guess it would be at least another few weeks of study/experimentation.

These time frames are to get to a level of basic proficiency. To really "master" the program, you're talking about needing years of experience doing multiple projects (i.e. doing it wrong a few time in order to learn how to do it right).

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