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Webcam Use Soars in Building Trade

Almost half the North American construction industry has broadband access and many building companies are using webcams to monitor remote projects, according to an industry survey.

Sales of construction productivity tools, including project management Web applications and streaming media, are on the increase as the economy cools. While advertising-dependent Web companies face the squeeze, B2B construction firm, Buildpoint is bullish that the trade's greater need for efficiency in tough times will boost its 2001 revenue.

Forty-two percent of building companies have high-speed Internet access, while more than 80 percent have Internet access, according to Buildpoint's survey. The 152 survey participants from 35 U.S. states, Canada and Puerto Rico, included general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

Buildpoint has grown its site traffic from 1,500 last year, to 40,000 as the industry snaps up productivity tools during the market slowdown. "Last year, companies were saying they didn't need our products because they were so backlogged with work," says Florian Aalimi, Buildpoint CTO. "We're confident that our system will be used more as the market slows."

Webcam monitoring helps companies to streamline project management and avoid litigation. Sitecams reduce travel budgets by allowing architects, engineers and contractors to monitor projects remotely. Online document management and virtual blueprints are other popular broadband applications for the industry.

One of the main benefits of the sitecams is to increase accountability, says John Antevy of Ebuilder. "If the building company says they couldn't work because it was raining, the client can check. Lots of clients are tired of babysitting the builders, and sitecams help them avoid that." Antevy foresees the industry ultimately using digital cameras with wireless broadband connections to stream construction site video.

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