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The quiet ones can also make a difference

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Much of the publicity about the Internet focuses on the search for a big idea, one on which an enterprise can be built. But the Internet is such a public place that, once implemented, good ideas are copied within months. One big idea is not enough, you need another idea and then another to keep ahead. If ideas stop, imitation by others usually turns the special idea into a commodity. This is happening now with Internet-based project information management systems. Before many people have even started using them there are already too many to count.Only some will survive.

While it is worth tracking the headlines, the incremental changes which do not make the news will be just as important. Take, for example, the headline-averse subject of Building Regulations. There is no big idea in sight.

But change is on the way.

First stop, information on changes in regulations and associated British Standards. In time, technical news services on the Internet will automatically send us targeted information on request, or keep a watching brief for us.

Then comes integration. For the electronic practice or project library, automatically updated regulation information can become a shared resource. Another integration strand is CAD. The electronic library may be accessed through the CAD screen.Or something more proprietary may be on offer, such as context-sensitive help files in CAD. That is, the system 'knows' what aspect of a project you are working on and makes available relevant information on say, means of escape or air quality.

Beyond this lies design simulation, including online testing of designs for regulation compliance. We already have approved SAPs software. It is not a big step to remote checking over the project intranet.

Will any of this make the headlines?

Probably not. Boring stuff, regulations.

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