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Technology

Construction Technology: Cases of Emergency

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many government officials, building owners, and construction companies are considering what could have been done differently to improve security of citizens in the path of the storm. Technology certainly can provide the data and knowledge needed to ensure safety in cases of emergency.

As one example, FM (facilities management) software allows facilities professionals to develop evacuation plans and has specific capabilities for scenario planning when unexpected events—such as environmental disasters—occur.

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P3 Pushes Forward

States continue to have a need for new infrastructure and buildings—courthouses, prisons, bridges, roads, water and wastewater treatment plants, and even hospitals. But in many instances, they don’t have the internal resources to match such needs.

Enter P3 (public-private partnership)—a combination of the public and private sectors where risks and responsibilities between the two are allocated based on what they do best. Many in the construction industry might point to toll roads as an example in the United States where P3 agreements have flourished, but these type of partnerships can be applicable on a wide range of construction projects.

Rick Ciullo, chief operating officer, Chubb Surety, www.chubb.com/surety/chubb1315.html, Warren, N.J., a group of insurance companies that specializes in construction and commercial surety bond solutions, says, “From my perspective, it is just another way for the public to develop assets other than investing public money.” He describes it as a contractual agreement between a public entity—such as a department of transportation or a water district—and a private company that will design and build, finance, operate, and maintain the asset.

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New Options for Facilities Management

Creating good construction data that can be extended out across the full lifecycle of a facility continues to be among the hottest trends in the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) market today. Companies looking to integrate data throughout this process are finding more options at their disposal thanks to technology companies becoming more involved in the FM (facilities management) process.

The latest comes via an acquisition, as Idox plc, www.idoxgroup.com, London, England, the parent company of McLaren Software, www.mclarensoftware.com, Houston, Texas, announces a merger with FMx Ltd., which provides CAFM (computer-aided facilities management) software. Ideally suited for companies that own and manage corporate, public, and commercial real estate, FMx Ltd., provides a solution targeted at all aspects of an operational facility. This includes building maintenance, asset tracking, space planning, room and resource booking, estates management, and cost control.

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Viewpoint Partners with McCormick Systems

Sometimes it all comes down to strong technology partners. For construction companies this is certainly the case, as good technology partners help run more efficient operations. But for technology providers, the same theory can also apply, as strong partners help deliver a more cohesive set of products fit to best serve construction customers.

Throughout the past few months Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore., has adopted this strategy in full. Just in the past few weeks the company has partnered with the likes of Hard Dollar, www.harddollar.com, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Quote Software, www.quotesoft.com, Eugene, Ore. This adds to the already impressive list of partners for Viewpoint that extend across all aspects of the construction-technology space. One could argue its acquisition of Construction Imaging earlier this year also played into this strategy as well.

This week Viewpoint’s partnership strategy continues to progress with the announced deal with McCormick Systems, www.mccormicksys.com, Scottsdale, Ariz. The company, which provides estimating and other technology solutions for electrical (and more recently, mechanical and plumbing) contractors, will now be included in the Viewpoint Development Partner Program.

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The Mobile Carrier Landscape for Construction

The past two weeks have brought forth some rather market-changing news on the U.S. carrier front. Separate deals involving Sprint, www.sprint.com, Overland Park, Kan., and T-Mobile, www.t-mobile.com, Bellevue, Wash., have the potential of shaking up the way voice and data services are delivered to businesses—construction included.

First the T-Mobile news, which came down roughly two weeks ago, which proposes a deal that would merge T-Mobile USA with MetroPCS, www.metropcs.com, according to the parent companies of each, Deutsche Telekom, www.telekom.com, and MetroPCS Communications, respectively. Under the new deal the companies would create a company that would keep the T-Mobile name, and become what it calls a “value carrier” focused on competing on value.

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Managing Growth via Technology

Growth is great for any construction business, and in these hard times that can be very uncommon. However, some builders find that growth can be more of a curse to their business if not managed correctly. Luckily, construction technology is playing its role in helping homebuilders manage growth while maintaining some control in the process.

Rainbow Valley Design & Construction www.rainbowvalleyinc.com, Eugene Ore., knows this firsthand. The company, which was established in 1971, has experienced considerable growth through the years, evolving to become a company consisting of nine partners and 20 employees spread across two locations, and working with more than 75 subcontractors. With such growth the company found its internal structure and processes needed to keep up in order to match pace.

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HTML5-Based Home Selections

Allowing buyers to customize home design plans online puts the power into the hands of the customer. Having that data live and linked back to workflow and accounting systems gives a bit of that power back to the builder. In essence it can create a draft and design environment that provides the best of both worlds.

The Contrado Group, www.thecontradogroup.com, Phoenix, Ariz., is a company that provides Web-based homebuyer engagement technology. The company offers a full suite of architectural services, 3D animation, interactive floor plans, and other services to help builders deliver an interactive and engaging experience to buyers and potential buyers.

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Is Construction Ready for Windows 8?

As mobile-device adoption in general ramps up across the consumer and enterprise sectors, thanks to the availability of such devices as Apple’s iPad, the question on many minds in the construction industry is this: What impact will Windows 8 have on construction?

On Friday, Microsoft, www.microsoft.com, Redmond, Wash., is officially releasing Windows 8 and associated tablet devices such as the Microsoft Surface. One of the biggest discussions surrounding Windows 8 for the construction industry is focused on the ability to use the Windows 8 operating system on devices in the field. For an industry that has deep roots in Microsoft-based technology such as construction, this could make Microsoft a big contender going forward.

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Mobile Grows in Construction

iOS may have been the first out of the gate when it comes to a mainstream-accepted platform for mobile devices and technologies, but Android is quickly gaining steam in the market. No matter which platform a construction company chooses, the bigger trend is clear: Mobile is here to stay.

In the past, construction professionals needed to rely on handwritten notes to keep track of day-to-day information on the jobsite. Today, with an array of mobile devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets, it’s possible to automate these processes, making them more efficient and reliable.

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