AEC Tech News (#231)

9 Jul, 2008

Land Development Gets SaaS-y

A new civil engineering software as a service promises significant savings in time and money.

By Heather Livingston

Heather Livingston photo

Whereas BIM has yielded new efficiencies for architects, SITEOPS has created a software as a service (SaaS) that aims to do the same for civil engineers. SITEOPS Single Pad, a civil engineering program, promises to change the way real estate is bought and developed. Dubbed "CAD with a Brain," this solution gives land planners and civil engineers the ability to qualify several options, under a user-defined set of parameters, within hours instead of months. SITEOPS, which just received its patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 1, delivers options for multiple site designs and provides the optimal layout, grading, and storm water drainage with accurate cost estimates.

According to SITEOPS president and CEO Mike Detwiler, developing a piece of land involves three major cost elements. First there is the land purchase; second is the cost to design and construct a building; and third is the cost of developing the land to support the building. That third cost element historically has been the hardest number to accurately predict. Unexpected and dramatic increases in the land development costs delay construction, disturb financing agreements, and lower return on investment, Detwiler said. With SITEOPS, civil engineers can run site simulations that consider as many as 10 billion combinations of layout, grading, and drainage design options — and deliver three to five detailed solutions, each with a CAD drawing and budget, within 24 hours.

The Specifics
If you're unfamiliar with the term, SaaS is a method of software deployment wherein the application is hosted by the vendor, not the user. In other words, it's not a memory hog that's going to require your firm to upgrade its server or hire dedicated IT personnel to maintain it. Software upgrades, service releases, and maintenance are all included in the subscription cost, and users have unlimited access to their project and the SITEOPS support team for a full year. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Vermont-based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology. She can be reached at


Cadalyst Labs Review:
Vico Virtual Construction Suite 2008

By Jerry Laiserin

It's been said that everyone remembers his or her first time — especially the first time working with a new tool or technology that awakens new perceptions and opens new doors to what is possible. Perhaps it was a first-time exposure to CAD, spreadsheets, interactive graphics for gaming, e-mail, Web browsing, texting, instant messaging, wikis, or even YouTube. We think we've seen it all, then along comes a brand new way of interacting with the familiar that magically (and easily) transforms that familiar into a different way of seeing and doing. That's the reaction many folks have had after their first exposure to the full capabilities of Vico Software's Virtual Construction Suite 2008, a software suite that represents the latest generation of software thinking.

In the beginning of the computer age, highly technical and scientific vertical applications were available for analysis, accounting, process control, and so on, and general-function, horizontal applications that cut across all disciplines could be used for tasks such as text processing. Whether vertical or horizontal, earlier generations of software tended to mimic the manual processes they were replacing (corporate re-engineering guru Michael Hammer called this "paving the cowpaths"). Accounting software mimicked double-entry bookkeeping; word or text processing mimicked typewriters and physical cut-and-paste editing; and computer-aided drafting mimicked the various manual drawing, pin-bar drafting, and reprographic methods that preceded it. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Dr. Dobb's Architecture & Design World
July 21-24, 2008
Chicago, Illinois
Architecture & Design World offers more than 70 educational sessions including tutorials, classes, case studies, keynotes and Birds-of-a-Feathers within six focused tracks. Read more »

National Collegiate Facilities Management Technology Conference
August 18-22, 2008
Los Angeles, CA
This annual event brings together the professionals who develop, support, and use a wide range of technologies to plan, build, and manage campus facilities. Read more »

Bentley Plant User Group Meeting
September 18-19, 2008
Biloxi, Mississippi
The Bentley Plant User Group Conference includes hands-on workshops, technology/product updates, keynote presentations by Bentley executives, and user presentations. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on