Trimble Connected Community Brings Web Collaboration to Construction

By Andrew Baltazar, Associate Editor | September 28, 2010
Top: The Site Cameras feature displays photos and video of how a worksite looked on various dates.
Middle: With the GeoPicture Viewer, members navigate via map to different parts of a worksite. Selecting a location point shows pictures and other data from that location.
Bottom: TCC provides a calendar to keep members aware of project deadlines, equipment availability and more.

Complementing Trimble's telematics software, Connected Community (TCC) is an online collaboration tool that allows construction contractors and clients to manage project data, keep visual tabs on project progress, and communicate with employees.

Because it is Web-based, no special software is needed to access the community. Think of TCC as a social network for workers in a construction project.

"The genesis of Trimble Connected Community was that we had to build a secure way to access project information ubiquitously, share it, and make it where mere mortals could use it," says Derrick Darby, division vice president of Trimble's Connected Site.

One of TCC's central features is its file-management system, which a fleet manager could use to organize and analyze equipment data, such as travel times, fuel costs and down time. More importantly, those data can be shared with anyone else who has access to the community.

"You can also use TCC to upload and download new design changes that go to the field," Darby says. "An operator in any location with Web access can grab the new or updated design from TCC, transfer it to a flash memory card, and then put it into a piece of equipment."

The fleet manager is just one of several members of the community. Each employee involved in a project can be a member, such as an engineer who posts a design change up to TCC. The updated design would later be reviewed on TCC by a field supervisor, for instance. Once the review is complete, a site superintendent downloads the new design from TCC and puts it into a loader, excavator, or other equipment. All of this is done without anyone ever having to leave their office, Darby says.

A collection of digital photos allows employees to view worksite progress. Each photo is accessed on TCC by date, showing you how your worksite looked on that particular day.

By using a GPS-enabled camera, TCC members can "geotag" each worksite picture, upload them to TCC's GeoPicture Viewer, and then virtually navigate a worksite.

TCC is full of tools commonly found in other online productivity suites. The calendar keeps track of meetings, project deadlines and equipment availability. A forum, blog and wiki facilitates exchanging of ideas, information and data.

"When you walk into a contractor's firm, you're likely to see a marker board showing where equipment is located, what projects they're working on, who the operator is, and more," Darby says. "What TCC does is use technology to recreate these marker boards electronically."

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