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From the Editor

The industry is buzzing with talk of new technology and innovations available to bring the world of construction into the 21st century. Online project management, e-mail and other fast-action, online technologies are a revolutionary dream come true for the industry; however, it's hard to make that dream a reality on the work site when your guys are staring at a muddy field with limited access to power, let alone an ethernet connection to the World Wide Web. Cities and states across the nation are changing that scenario, though.

Philadelphia — the fifth largest city in the U.S. by population — is embarking on a plan to become the first major city in America to deploy wireless Internet access citywide and the largest Wireless Fidelity system, or Wi-Fi, hotspot in the world. This massive technological endeavor will provide wireless Internet over 135 square miles at the minimal taxpayer cost of $7 million to $10 million. An initiative of the city's mayor, John F. Street, the open-air access to the Web will allow everyone within the vicinity to use Internet technology to its greatest advantage for personal and professional tasks and goals.

And Philadelphia isn't alone. Major metropolitan cities across the U.S. are making a similar push to bring Wi-Fi capabilities to their residents and businesses. Despite Internet Service Providers (ISPs) trying to hold onto their clients and limit municipal wireless through lobbying and legislation, there are currently almost 25,000 wireless hotspots across the nation, with the states of California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and Washington leading the pack.

So what does this have to do with your crews laying brick and block on the work site? Better yet, what does Wi-Fi have to do with your bottom line? Everything from scheduling, maintenance, invoices, change orders, blueprints and more can be made quicker, easier and more time efficient.

For instance, an Arizona homebuilder who has integrated wireless technology for all of his building sites has eliminated 50% of the daily phone calls that he and his supervisors had to make and cut building times down 10-30% per site. How would you like to figure these kinds of time and labor savings into your bottom line?

In this month's issue, Tom Inglesby, Masonry magazine's Contributing Editor, discusses some of the other technology trends that are also going to be revolutionizing your work site in the near future (see page 34). You may not see these innovations immediately out in the field, but this dream will become a reality sooner than you know it.

Don't even know the first thing about computers? No problem! Most community colleges offer affordable classes on basic computer use and software knowledge. Don't have time for classes? There are many free software tutorials available online. Check out: www.learningelectric.com, www.learnthat.com, www.tamingthebeast.net/training/freeskills.htm, or www.webnests.com/freetutorials.htm.

It's never too late to learn how to make your business and your industry stronger and more competitive.






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