Remote working video surveying: A solution for Sir Robert McAlpine during global crisis


Sir Robert McAlpine shapes how towns and cities develop and design and build some of the most historic buildings in the country.

As a consequence of the travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sir Robert McAlpine’s Geotechnical Surveying Engineer who normally comes over from Ibiza for the summer months was unable to travel to carry out the walked Geotechnical Surveys for the Autolink A19 DBFO Contract.

Andy Sinclair, Project Manager for Sir Robert McAlpine on the contract explains, “We were trying to come up with an alternative to a walked survey by an Inspector or Engineer, so the visual aspect was the main reason why we needed to get footage of the survey being undertaken, which we could then share with our Geotechnical Engineer over the cloud.” John McMahon, Highways Engineer continues, “We needed a solution to capture that data, so we thought video was a good format to send that information over to Ibiza so that he could utilise the videos and interrogate them to complete his survey for the year.”


With a short time scale to scope and deliver the solution which would allow the Surveying Engineer to undertake his assessment of the condition of the Geotechnical assets on their network, Sir Robert McAlpine approached MGISS. “They had experience from other contacts from other industries, they made bespoke software to do what we wanted it to do, and that’s important to us. MGISS understands the need to get the scope of the solution correct before any development is done, so the solution that does get put down on the table at the end of the project is exactly what you need.”

John adds that, “We came to MGISS because we’ve used them in the past for other surveys, they’ve developed survey solutions for us for our VRS inspections, road signs, drainage – so we’ve got a history of working collaboratively with them. Plus, the speed was important because it was something that we hadn’t attempted before; we needed to get it done through the summer months, we contacted MGISS to look at options and we’ve been able to capture the data on site in all weathers.

All the data was captured, sent over to MGISS, and they provided us with the arcGIS solution for the surveyor in Ibiza to be able to interrogate the videos, zoom in, pause and generally get the most out of the videos. It’s gone really well.”

"MGISS has adapted to our needs as they've changed throughout this 30 year contract"

It was vital for the solution for Sir Robert McAlpine to fit with their existing network, John explains, “It’s really important that data is captured and secured, it’s information that we have to compile and use during the contract and we also have to make sure that that data is in a fit shape to be handed back to the client at the end of the 30 year contract.”

Sir Robert McAlpine, Video Asset Location Solution

With a history of working together, it was important to MGISS to assess and serve the needs of Sir Robert McAlpine on this particular project. John reflects, “The positives is that in the relationship we’ve got with MGISS, we know they’re going to react quickly and come up with what they know our requirements are, not what they want to sell us. Whenever we work together, we’ll tell MGISS what we want to achieve and they’ll come up with options, and then we’ll agree on the scope before we go anywhere. Whenever we contact them they’re always at the end of the phone, they’re always willing to come to site, we’ve got a good relationship with them.

Working with MGISS allows us to supply a need that we didn’t have previously, MGISS has adapted to our needs as they’ve changed throughout this 30 year contract, and it allows us to have a one-stop place where we can develop and adapt as a business.”

Andy adds that, “Working with MGISS has allowed us to solve our short-term solutions, it’s helped us to develop our thinking towards our medium-term problems, and the legacy now is that we’ve moved it on from the first year of video surveys into this year with a tweaked version of the solution. There’s certainly been a lot of interesting features that we could look to develop into other surveys that we do, so it’s been interesting and quite rewarding working with MGISS.” Check out Sir Robert McAlpine here,

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