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From Paper to Digital: Evolution of Construction Technology

Old daily report

As tedious as paperwork can seem to construction, its importance is undeniable. Well-documented construction projects are safer, more efficient, and ultimately, more profitable ones. Construction site documentation has existed for about as long as construction itself. Historical examples are still in existence rendered on "mediums" ranging from cuneiform, to papyrus, to parchment. But until the wide introduction of modern day paper about two hundred and twenty years ago, documented accounts of construction projects were sporadic at best, and the information these early reports contained was quite spotty. This was often deliberate, to avoid giving away "trade secrets" to competitors.

Required written accounts of construction projects didn't appear until after the turn of the 20th century. And at that point, the purpose of these documents was to insure that contractors weren't trying to rip off clients through false billing and other tactics. Construction reports that would seem recognizable to many today didn't appear until mid-way through the century, and safety briefings and warnings didn't become a required part of these reports until 1971.

As time marched on, construction reporting expanded as well, due to customer demands, contractor convenience, and government requirements. What had started out as cuneiform on clay tablets had "evolved" into boxes of folders of paper files, sometimes just for one project. And unlike clay tablets, paper doesn't hold up particularly well to time, fire, flooding, or insects.

In addition to the durability limitations of paper, was the issue of coalescing data from all of the files onto a single (paper) document. As the twenty-first century beckoned, clearly a better way was needed to do construction paperwork, preferably involving less actual paperwork. Business-oriented software began first appearing at the end of the 1970s. While doing paperwork over the computer was quicker, more legible, and allowed for integration of different documents into one, these software packages were often slow to download, difficult to use, tied up computers for hours, and were often limited to use as part of an office system. And yes, such reporting required the use of an actual computer with all of its attendant cords and wires, not terribly practical for field use.

Fortunately, like paperwork and the industry itself, construction software has evolved. Not only is today's construction software faster and more task specific, it is no longer limited to conventional computers. It can be used on laptops, notebooks, and wireless systems, meaning that today's reports can be completed on a variety of devices, from a variety of locations.

Raken for daily reporting for example, allow users to complete and send reports in ninety minutes or less from Android or iOS powered devices in real time. Raken's fields also allow for the inclusion of photos and streaming video for a more comprehensive report. And Raken's cloud technology allows for up to ten years of online file storage, making those office file rooms as obsolete as office DOS. So by using Raken and other construction software programs, firms are guaranteed an evolution into more productive and profitable businesses.

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