As the saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. If that is indeed the case, then perhaps homebuilders can use a solid photo archiving and management platform in order to save thousands of minutes during the course of a job. It’s collaboration via photo sharing.
Whether it is for purposes of warranty issues, inspection rounds, or simply tracking the progression of a job, photos have always been a vital piece of a homebuilding project, from start to finish. Yet, for something so critical in nature it creates its fair share of headaches for builders as they attempt to manage the cumbersome process.
Easing this pain seems to be the target of a few technology providers these days. A mix of existing and new companies is taking aim at adding some simplicity and user-friendliness to photo management.
One in particular is 383 Studio, www.383studio.com, San Francisco, Calif., with its new Threshold platform, which is currently in beta. Designed around the idea of managing construction photos in the cloud, the team, which has a background in the construction market, built the product with the idea of applying functionality similar to many of the popular communication and social media technologies that people are accustomed to using on a daily basis.
The platform enables builders to upload plans and photos, allowing them to tag photos in order to make them more searchable. For example, a photo of first floor mud room might be tagged with such items as ‘sprinkler,’ ‘sheer wall,’; or ‘testing.’ This makes the photos highly searchable and adds a layer of transparency for those looking to find relevant photos in a fast and efficient manner. Views can even be segmented by the various trades.
Perhaps what makes Threshold so appealing is the way it mimics such popular social media and technology sites like Facebook or Dropbox. For example, you have a standard drag-and-drop functionality for managing photos, as well as a project dashboard that emulates a timeline, communicating such messages as ‘Joe Smith added Jane Doe to the project’ or Joe Smith has added 6 new photos to project ABC.’
Tutorials on each page helps ensure users never feel lost within the platform. According to Philippe Gauthier, CEO, 383 Studio, they didn’t want people to be on a page and feel they didn’t know what to do, and says overall the platform was built under the assumption that people know how to use things like Facebook.
That last part could be key for builders as the open up the platform to clients. As an ideal way to keep clients in the loop on the progression of the project, Threshold helps them feel as if they are constantly being updated. Perhaps most appealing to builders is that the platform makes it so the clients are accessing photos on their own time and not constantly calling or emailing for updates.
Beta invites are now open to the public at www.thresholdcm.com. The company has plans to extend this to a mobile platform in the near future with the idea that builders can instantly upload photos from smartphones or tablets they are using from the field.
Other photo sharing platforms haven taken aim at construction, including Multivista, www.multivista.com, Phoenix, Ariz., and Jobsite Visitor, www.jobsitevisitor.com, to name a few. So the trend is clearly developing in the market. The only thing builders need to decide is which seems to be the right fit for what they are hoping to accomplish.