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Buzzsaw

PROS:

Allows project collaboration

Can be personalised

Is tailored to the building industry

Includes product information and news

CONS:

Still very US-centric

PRICE: free membership

Further information: Buzzsaw on 001 415 402 3400 or visit www.buzzsaw.com.

We have been hearing about collaborative design via the Internet for many years.You may have read articles on how various companies are bringing tools to market that address issues to do with authoring and red-lining designs using the Internet as your network infrastructure.While many of these tools are now available, as yet very few projects are developed in this way. Autodesk, the developer of AutoCAD, is one of the companies at the forefront of these developments. As well as providing the tools needed to work in this way, it has also realised that an environment is needed within which to carry out the work.

Autodesk is now creating market-specific portals for project collaboration as well as containing content and e-commerce services. The first of these, at www. buzzsaw. com, has been designed as a comprehensive business-to-business marketplace for the building industry and provides an interesting insight into the way the industry could be moving.

Buzzsaw. com is the first Internet business spun out of Autodesk as part of an effort to incubate Internet business ideas and Internet technologies relevant to the design industry.Autodesk will also provide equity investments to take advantage of new business models and new growth markets created by the Internet. This follows Autodesk's Web-based software delivery and sales strategy, which allows users to buy any of its products via the web.

The fact that this new enterprise is backed by Autodesk will also give many users confidence.

Autodesk has for some time been developing webbased collaborative technologies. By leveraging these, building industry professionals can break down communication barriers and build new paths to efficiency. Using the tools to streamline processes involved in their jobs will no doubt lead to an increase in their profit margins, which is the major motivator for any business.

Buzzsaw. com has set its sights on becoming the leading online collaboration and commerce hub for the building design and construction industry.

It recently announced that the number of active building projects hosted on its Web-based project workspace has exceeded 2000. Achieving this in less than three months of operation demonstrates the industry's interest in using web-based collaborative technologies.The broad scale of projects and high number of daily users on Buzzsaw. com also illustrates an acceptance of this way of working.

The idea behind the site is to allow project collaboration between geographically dispersed project teams in real time on complex building and design projects. Members can view, share, edit, and redline building-project drawings and specifications, collaborate in online meeting environments, find information and specifications for building products, and use a broad and growing selection of industry news, content, and community services.

'With Buzzsaw. com we have seen more efficient operations, and significant time savings, ' said Doug Cochran, CAD Director at LPA, an awardwinning architecture and design firm based in Irvine, California. 'Our clients now have the ability to access the information on their project in real time, as the project progresses. We feel this technology gives us an edge over our competitors since it will save the client money and time, and help the project process operate in a more efficient manner.'

An important aspect of this portal is that it aims to offer a total service and to address all the core functions of the fragmented building design and construction industry, including design collaboration, construction administration, bidding, buying and ongoing management. By offering unique content for a dynamic interactive community, Buzzsaw goes beyond simply providing industry resources such as building-product information and news.

Users can access industry information, services and tools that enable them to work faster and more cost effectively. At present Buzzsaw. com offerings include:

secure project hosting to view, share and edit blueprints and specifications, reducing the IT investment needed by small firms which would otherwise not be able to take advantage of web collaboration real-time project collaboration via online multimedia meeting services; these greatly reduce the time taken to get work done, and access to pertinent, up-to-the-minute industry news and information also helps to speed up the whole design development process .

The inclusion of comprehensive specifications for building materials and of construction administration to manage and track the paperwork involved in the building project cycle means that the back office tasks are also well supported.Other useful features include personalisation services which customise the site to reflect the particular user's interests such as industry news, location and role in the building industry, along with a directory of architects, general contractors and sub-contractors.

The integration of collaborative tools along with administrative and e-commerce services on Buzzsaw. com could provide everyone in the building industry with a faster, more profitable way to work.The site is very UScentric but this is set to change. The RIBA and other UKbodies have for some time talked about webbased resources for the construction industry but have failed to deliver. The growth in the dot. com sector, even with the recent stock market jitters, has allowed Buzzsaw to attract the kind of investment needed for this type of undertaking. It is well worth checking out even if it may be of limited use to those based in the UK at the moment. Take note - this is the shape of things to come!

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