As we’ve stated before, the construction industry has been notoriously slow to adopt the technologies that have so shaped other industries. Project managers are just beginning to email photos of the job site back to the office and store plans on the cloud for access in the field – but the process is clumsy, and especially frustrating for a new generation of builders and contractors who know and experience the power of digital applications on a daily basis off the build site.
Adam Freeman, a 2006 Construction Management graduate of Cal Poly, frequently ran up against this resistance to innovation while building high-end residential homes in the San Francisco Bay area. “Being younger, I’ve always felt there’s a huge need for technology in the construction industry. I can remember being really frustrated with the cumbersome interfaces of current software, and the lack of a genuine photo management system,” says Freeman.
Along with long-time friend Philippe Gauthier, Freeman founded 383 Studio in 2010 to help bring the building sector into the 21st century. The firm’s first major project is Threshold, a cloud-based construction management utility that streamlines photo uploading, organizing, and sharing. The intuitive interface allows managers, team members, and clients to easily access plans for multiple projects, each embedded with photos from the construction site that can be updated throughout the building process, improving communication and productivity.
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Cloud-based construction management software is not unheard of, but the majority of programs are only available to large-scale architectural and contracting firms. “There’s a huge market that hasn’t been addressed with expensive, customized software packages. With Threshold, we've designed the intuitive interface and management capabilities to appeal to anyone who knows how to use the web and wants to maximize their documentation efforts," adds Freeman.
Once you begin a project on Threshold, you’re met with a helpful Project Assistant toolbar that will guide you through each of the steps to complete your project setup and take full advantage of the application’s functionality. The Global Dashboard homepage lists the most recent activity across all projects, keeping you up to date on the latest progress for multiple builds. Once inside a particular project, you can upload photos, plans, and participants and gain access to a variety of management features that allow you to efficiently organize project data, quickly find photos, and share progress.
One of the most powerful features of the Threshold application is the ability to view site plans embedded with images for each room of the build – clicking on an individual room will show you a gallery of all images from that region of the project, which can be tagged with useful information (e.g. electrical vs. mechanical, north facing vs. south facing, ceiling vs. floor). “Finding a specific photo from a job site can be a nightmare, as they are usually buried in some non-descript region of a hard-drive. Threshold allows you to quickly locate relevant images to better communicate with crews and clients alike.”
Freeman and his team have their sights set on mobile integration for the project’s future, which would allow contractors to capture images from the job site and instantly push easily-tagged photos to Threshold and other participants. “This technology is headed for tablets and mobile devices. Once we acquire additional funding, we’re jumping headfirst into mobile development to streamline project management even further,” says Freeman.
Threshold is still in beta testing, but is open and free to join. You can take the software for a spin by joining at the project’s homepage.