How 360 Virtual Tours are Redefining Remote Site Inspections

Laura Tolson
June 4, 2024

Remote site inspections have traditionally been time-consuming and challenging. However, 360 virtual tour remote site inspection technology is changing the game, offering a more efficient, accurate, and safe way to manage these inspections. Let’s dive into how you can leverage this technology to improve your inspection processes.

Understanding 360 Virtual Tour Technology

What is a 360 Virtual Tour?

360 virtual tour remote site inspection involves capturing a complete, immersive view of a location using specialized cameras or drones. These images or videos are then stitched together to create a comprehensive, navigable map of the site, similar to Google Street View but tailored for specific project needs.

[side note: did you know that the Founders of Swyvl actually started as Google Trusted Photographers for Google Street View in 2014!]

How It Works

The process is straightforward. Using 360-degree cameras or drones equipped with multiple lenses, you capture overlapping images from various angles as you move through the site. These images are then processed using software that stitches them into a seamless, interactive map.

Tools and Software

There’s a variety of tools available, from basic one-shot 360 cameras to equipment to capture 360 photos on a DSLR camera to advanced drone systems. Some popular software options include Pix4D, GoThru, DroneDeploy, and Matterport. However, one of the standout tools for 360 virtual tour remote site inspection is Swyvl (shameless plug!). Swyvl offers a user-friendly platform that allows you to create private Google Street View-style projects. Whether you’re capturing 360-degree photos or videos, Swyvl makes it easy to display them on a map and share with your team. This versatility makes Swyvl an excellent choice for various project sizes and complexities.

Swyvl 360 mapping software

Benefits of 360-Degree Mapping for Remote Site Inspections

Enhanced Visibility and Detail

Traditional inspections often miss critical details and it can be impossible to remember and record everything manually. How many times have you done an inspection, returned to the office and then realised you had missed a bit!? Many, the answer is many times - it happens to all of us. With 360 virtual tour remote site inspection, you get a comprehensive view of the entire site, allowing you to catch issues that might have slipped through the cracks. It’s like having a magnifying glass on every corner of your project.

Improved Accuracy and Data Quality

Mistakes in traditional inspections can be costly and time-consuming to correct. 360 virtual tour remote site inspection significantly reduces these errors by providing highly accurate data, ensuring your inspections are spot on.

Time and Cost Savings

One of the biggest advantages of 360 virtual tour remote site inspection is the reduction in physical site visits. Instead of flying a team out to a remote location multiple times, you can capture everything in one go and review the data from your office. This not only saves time but also cuts down on travel costs.

Increased Safety

Remote sites can be dangerous. By minimizing the need for on-site inspections, 360 virtual tour keeps your team safe. You can assess hazardous areas from the safety of your office, reducing the risk of accidents.

Better Documentation and Reporting

Detailed, interactive maps make documentation and reporting a breeze. You can easily share these maps with stakeholders, provide clear visual evidence of site conditions, and maintain thorough records for future reference. Because 360 virtual tour remote site inspection are so quick and easy these days, you could be incorporating regular inspections into your processes so each fortnight there is a newly updated inspection.

Preparing for 360 Virtual Tour Remote Site Inspections

Identify Your Objectives

Before you start, it’s crucial to define the scope and objectives of your inspection. Are you checking for structural integrity, environmental compliance, or something else? Knowing your goals will help you plan the mapping process more effectively.

Select the Right Equipment

Choose equipment that suits your project’s needs. For large, complex sites, drones with advanced mapping capabilities might be necessary or perhaps a 360 camera mounted to the top of a car. For smaller areas, a handheld 360 camera could suffice. Ensure your team is trained to use the equipment properly.

A 360-degree mapping camera is on a race track
Here a fisheye lens is used on a DSLR camera with a panoramic head to capture high quality 360-degree photos.

Plan Your Mapping Process

Map out your site and identify key areas to focus on. Determine the best times for capturing images—optimal lighting conditions can make a significant difference. Ensure you have all the necessary permits and that your equipment is ready to go.

Conducting a 360 Virtual Tour Remote Site Inspection

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Set Up the Equipment: Ensure your cameras or drones are calibrated and ready. Check battery levels and storage capacity.
  2. Capture the Images/Videos: Move methodically through the site, ensuring you cover all areas comprehensively. For drones, plan your flight path carefully to avoid missing spots.
  3. Upload and Process the Data: Once you have your images, upload them to your chosen software for processing. This step can take some time, so be patient.
  4. Create the Navigable Map: Use the software to stitch the images together into a seamless map. Review the map for any gaps or errors and make necessary adjustments.

Tips for Effective Data Capture

Optimal Times

Early morning or late afternoon are generally considered optimal times for capturing images due to softer lighting conditions. However, shadows can be a concern. If shadows are problematic, consider overcast days which provide even lighting without harsh shadows.

Comprehensive Coverage

Ensure you capture all critical areas, including hard-to-reach spots. Missing any section could lead to incomplete data and potential oversights in your inspection.

Avoid Common Pitfalls

Double-check your equipment settings, and make sure you have backup batteries and storage. It’s easy to overlook these details in the field, but they can save you a lot of trouble later.

A cute boy holds a drone
Get yourself a trusty helper to make sure all your equipment is checked before take off!

Use Timelapse Setting

For car-mounted 360 cameras, using a timelapse setting can be an effective way to capture continuous data as you drive through the site. This method ensures you don’t miss any critical areas and provides a seamless overview of the site.

Get GPS Data

Accurate geolocation is crucial for effective mapping. Ensure your camera or drone is equipped to capture GPS data for each photo location. This step will enhance the accuracy of your maps and make it easier to integrate the data into your project management tools.

Analyzing and Utilizing 360 Virtual Tour Remote Site Inspections

Interpreting the Data

Once your map is ready, it’s time to dive into the data. Look for patterns, anomalies, and areas of concern. The interactive nature of the map allows you to zoom in on specific sections and get a detailed view.

Identifying Key Insights

Use the map to identify critical issues and actionable items. Whether it’s a structural defect or an environmental hazard, the detailed visuals make it easier to pinpoint and address problems.

Integrating Maps into Project Workflows

Incorporate the 360 virtual tour remote site inspection into your existing project management workflows. Use them for planning, monitoring progress, and communicating with your team and stakeholders. The visual data can significantly enhance collaboration and decision-making.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Real-World Examples

In a recent project at a remote mining site, 360 virtual tour remote site inspection helped internal and external stakeholders plan and quote for upcoming work without having to travel to the site. The comprehensive images allowed more people to inspect the site in high detail, without requiring additional personnel on-site. This virtual inspection provided more coverage than traditional onsite inspections, making the process more efficient and thorough.

Lessons Learned

From this project, we learned that traditional onsite inspections aren't always necessary. In fact, virtual inspections may often be better. Stakeholders placed great value on the time and money saved by not having to travel to the site. The ability to quote work accurately without visiting the site was a significant benefit.


“That tool was great. I was able to quote up all the work without going there, saving me at least 2 days of time each time.” – External Contractor

Future Trends and Innovations in 360 Virtual Tour Remote Site Inspections

Emerging Technologies

The field of 360 virtual tour remote site inspection is constantly evolving. Emerging technologies like AI and machine learning are being integrated to enhance data analysis and interpretation. These advancements promise even more accurate and efficient inspections in the future.

Potential Applications

Beyond inspections, 360 virtual tour has potential applications in project planning, community engagement, and environmental monitoring. Staying updated with these trends can help you stay ahead in the industry.

A large scale windfarm
A large scale windfarm could benefit from regular 360-mapping site inspections at all stages of the project - from planning, community engagement through to maintenance and environmental monitoring.


360 virtual tour remote site inspection is transforming how remote site inspections are conducted. Its ability to provide detailed, accurate, and comprehensive views of sites not only improves efficiency but also enhances safety and reduces costs. If you haven’t yet adopted this technology, now is the time to do so. Embrace the future of site inspections and watch your projects thrive.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into 360 virtual tour remote site inspection and take your remote site inspections to the next level. If you have any questions or need guidance on getting started, feel free to reach out. Happy mapping!

Laura Tolson
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