In the first of what we hope will be a regular tech spot in the Surveyor’s Journal, FRANK HARRINGTON highlights some apps that may be of use to surveyors.
Applications that are likely to be equally relevant to all surveyors are dictation apps. These offer the ability to record dictated notes on your phone with various transcription options.
Standard dictation apps
The most basic of these is the voice memo app that comes as standard with most iPhones, while other devices usually have a similar offering. These work like a traditional dictaphone. You press a record button, record your notes and save the recording as a digital file like digital dictaphones or traditional tapes for transcribing or reviewing. One of the benefits of digital files is that once saved you can immediately email the file to a secretary for transcription, a great time-saving tool if you are not returning to the office immediately.
This is a new, recently launched service, with the Irish branch headed up by practising solicitor John Glynn. According to Glynn, the system allows you to dictate on your iPhone or Android as in a standard dictation app. The benefit here is it can be immediately uploaded in a sound file and sent off to typists in the UK. In the near future he hopes to appoint Irish typists as well. The typists work, and are available, 24/7, 365 days a year – even on Christmas Day! You can try out the system, with no obligation whatsoever, for a one-month period just to see if you like it. If you do, then after the trial period, the charge for typing is £1.80 per dictated minute.
Glynn has used this as a solicitor and observes that surveyors can also use this app to reduce the number of typists, or upskill them to do fee-earning work. Nobody is trying to deprive typists of their jobs, but I think upskilling and efficiency are the order of the day.
Not specifically an app, but Nuance Dragon Dictation includes an app as part of its offering. The add-on to the standard dictation service is that the Dragon software can transcribe your work for you, so no need for a secretary. On buying the package and after the initial install you read to it, so it learns your dictation style and, much like the surveyor’s own CPD, it continues to learn your voice traits the more you use it. It doesn’t stop there – you can use Dragon to control all of your virtual world. You may never have to use a keyboard again!
Customer Relationship Management systems
There are many customer relationship management (CRM) software packages out there but for those of you looking to dip your toe in the water of the CRM world you could do worse than check out the Zoho app. Another desktop-based program with an app feature, Zoho offers a CRM package. There is a free trial option, which offers up to three free users and includes lead management, accounts and contacts, sales opportunities, mobile access and 5,000 records.
Document sharing apps
This is another app that many of you will use regularly on your desktop. Want to share documents to a select group in the cloud? Dropbox is the answer and with the app you can share while on the go.
Land measuring apps
If you have been having trouble figuring out how to fit that planimeter you just picked up into your suit pocket, these apps are for you. And you don’t have to remember your triangulation formula either (all students reading this should still learn your formulas!)
The Measure Map app is a very user-friendly app for measuring anything visible on Google maps. You just point, tap on boundaries and measure. Search for a location by address, or let your smartphone or tablet find your current location. Measure Map offers a free lite version, a basic version for €1.79 or a pro version for €29.99. There are many other similar land measuring apps out there and Planimeter (€6.99) deserves a notable mention.
This is a smartphone app that can track the location of lone workers in real time and enable them to check in safely after meetings, travelling and lone working sessions. Employers have full visibility through a secure, online hub. This app is available on BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android devices.
SCSI Commercial Property Rating
Finding out the current multiplier from the relevant local authority can often be a headache. Not anymore, however, with the SCSI Commercial Property Rating app. This handy app calculates the annual rates you would have to pay on a property based on the rateable valuation.
SCSI Rebuilding Cost Guide
This is another quality application from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, which allows you to estimate the cost of rebuilding your house in Ireland. Pop in the area of your house in square metres, your region, your house type and any special features, and hey presto you have a guide to what your house type should be insured at. Comes with a free link to finding your local quantity surveyor and a stack of disclaimers!
We hope to make this a regular feature and would welcome submissions and reviews of your favourite apps or indeed any hardware or software that is useful for surveyors. If you’ve come across anything you would like to share with readers of the
Journal, email firstname.lastname@example.org.