Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Company Spotlight: The CAD Zone

The CAD Zone, Inc. located in Beaverton, Oregon, was founded in 1990 with a goal of providing CAD training and program customization to all industries. The CAD Zone quickly earned a reputation as being one of the best application development companies in the CAD industry, working extensively with Autodesk and other CAD companies to help customize their software for specific types of users.  In 1992 The CAD Zone was approached by the Portland Fire Bureau to create a custom CAD application for creating pre-fire plans for the fire service. When other fire departments found out what Portland was doing, they all wanted a copy of it for themselves. And that was when The Fire Zone™ Version 1.0 was born.  It quickly became a huge success. Since then The CAD Zone has introduced other CAD applications such as The Insurance Zone, The Crime Zone, and The Crash Zone.

The Crime Zone drawing program was first released in 1995 for creating crime and accident scene diagrams. This program was the result of more than 12 months of working with law enforcement officers, and prosecuting attorneys. The Crash Zone was added later as the program of choice specifically for crash reconstructionists.  The CAD Zone now has many thousands of users around the world, and is the only software publisher to offer industry-standard drawing programs for the fire service, law enforcement, crash reconstruction, and loss control industries.

Isn't CAD complicated?
CAD programs are very powerful, and most "off-the-shelf" programs are too difficult for non-technical computer users to learn and use. As a law enforcement officer, fire fighter, or fire protection engineer, you probably don’t have the time or desire to make computer drafting your full time job.  The CAD Zone's answer to this problem is to simplify CAD by turning it into a tool that anyone can use, beginner or expert. They want you to have all the benefits of using a CAD program, with none of the effort. They give each application a completely customized interface, pre-drawn symbols, special commands, menus, and other tools that are specific to each industry. This means you can create neat, consistent drawings with ease, 3-4 times faster than by hand. You really won’t even know that you are using a CAD program, but rest assured you will have all the accuracy, flexibility, and compatibility that CAD has to offer.  Unlike other programs like AutoSketch®, Visio®, or DynaCAD® that are excellent general-purpose drawing programs, they are not designed with any particular user in mind. The Cad Zone's programs on the other hand, are created just for users in a specific industry. In addition to symbols, each program contains a variety of other features to help automate your drawing tasks - whether you are in loss control, the fire service, law enforcement, or crash reconstruction.

Why would you want to use CAD?
Why would a police officer, fire fighter, or fire protection engineer want to use a CAD (computer-aided drawing) program? There are three main reasons:
  1. Accuracy - Only CAD programs offer drawing accuracy of more than 8 places to the right of the decimal point. Even if you don’t need that much accuracy, you can be sure that whatever you draw is represented exactly by the program. This is especially important if you need to defend your crime or crash scene diagrams in a courtroom, or if, in the case of pre-fire plans, fire fighter’s lives are at stake.
  2. Flexibility - Because CAD programs are extremely flexible, you can use them to draw anything and to print your diagrams at any scale. Unfortunately, being flexible often means a program is hard to use because there are so many commands and choices to make. This is why The CAD Zone creates a specific application for each type of user, making the program easy to learn and use for creating your type of diagrams.
  3. Compatibility - CAD programs also offer excellent compatibility with other drawing programs and with word processors and reporting programs. Often building floor plans and county street maps are available in an electronic format which can be easily imported into a CAD program.
What exactly does it do?
The two following videos show The CAD Zone's programs in use.  They are simple to navigate and easily map the conditions and recreations that would be needed by fire fighter or law enforcement officers.
  1. The Fire Zone Demo
  2. The Crash Zone
  3. The Crime Zone

What are the computer requirements?
All software from The CAD Zone has relatively low system requirements (especially when you consider that most CAD software requires a great deal of high-end system requirements).  The Crash Zone, The Fire Zone, and The Crime Zone all function with the following specifications:
  • Pentium 4 or better computer
  • Windows XP or newer
  • 512 meg of RAM (1 Gig or better preferred)
  • 800x600 screen resolution
  • 1 Gig hard drive space
These hardware and software configurations can be found in the majority of MDT's or Panasonic Toughbook's that most departments currently have installed in their vehicles.  This gives officers the ability to use the software on-scene when necessary.

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