The public works group was started in early 2007 for several reasons. In late 2006 we started realizing online tools and technology in our field had advanced significantly. And we knew this was only the beginning - today we face continued and rapid change while still trying to catch up with an aging infrastructure.
So we wanted to find a way to explore these tools and help ourselves and others keep up with the changes. And we wanted to figure out how all of this fits into everything else we do. By creating a group and offering online resources, we were able to begin documenting what we found and offer this information to others in our field.
In addition to the online tools used for communication, we also observed an emergence of the use of 3D immersive spaces or virtual worlds. We started using Second Life and over the last year have moved into exploring other 3D technologies such as Unity3D. We feel this trend is significant because our industry already provides and maintains data and information in 2D CAD and GIS format. It just makes sense to incorporate other dimensions to our information. Unfortunately the social side of worlds like Second Life have prevented many from seeing the more serious business applications of this technology. So part of our mission is to continue to explore and promote the use of 3D technologies and help others make sense of how they fit into our scope of work. (If you are in Second Life, please look for our group there and join!)
Running parallel to the 3D applications is the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies that focus on 4D and 5D information. Because BIM does not yet incorporate a social component, this technology has been more widely accepted in our fields. But even BIM is still not widely used throughout the industry.
Another benefit of using online technologies is the ability to better engage with vendors and find and exchange information. Those of us managing facilities and infrastructure are highly dependent on vendors for information about industry products and fast delivery. How well we operate and maintain our systems is dependent on how fast we can find the best product while balancing quality and cost. This was always a challenge in the past because before computers we relied on catalogs and visits from product reps. Today we have the Internet, but in a way, it just added to the time it takes to find information. Online tools are a great way to help minimize product research and decrease the time it takes to find just the right products. Therefore, the Public Works Group is committed to helping vendors use social media to engage with all of us working in the industry.
Finally, we realize online groups allow for growing a community of professionals, and we certainly welcome and encourage others to join and contribute or become part of our core editorial group. But this was one area for which we did not see a lack or need. We feel the public works industry already has an awesome association and community group within APWA. So we encourage everyone working in public works to join APWA and take advantage of the incredible networking, education, and opportunities offered by one of the best industry organizations available. Because of this, our focus here is to meet others in the industry, give them a place to get and share information, but in the end, promote APWA as the industry's community of professionals.
Thanks for stopping by!