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News & opinion

10 ENE. 2019

The new tools of the surveying trade

It's easy to save yourself time, hassle and – most importantly – money, with these handy new technological innovations.

1. For multi-tasking surveyors: Taskful

If you give yourself an incentive, you could complete more tasks. Taskful’s “smart to-do list” app and task manager helps you stay on track and meet your deadlines through the use of colourful and interactive checklists. Simply add in a task and the date it needs to be completed by, and the app will let you know what you need to complete each day in order to meet the deadline. The task could be anything, from work quotas, reading a set number of pages in a book, to exercising for a certain number of minutes per week. When you’ve finished each “sub-task”, check it off and move to the next.

2. For site managers: Trackunit

Now… where did I leave that excavator? With the Trackunit Go app, you can track your entire organisation’s vehicle fleet or the whereabouts of construction equipment, and view which assets are working, moving or stopped. Increasing knowledge of your machinery’s downtime helps raise efficiency and reduce costs. With the “Manager” version, you can also obtain an overview of the health of your fleet – what requires maintenance and when – and set alarms to reduce concern around theft or unauthorised equipment use: you’ll receive a warning if a vehicle moves without your permission.

3. For team players: Trello

Ever wish you could do away with those lengthy email chains or cumbersome spreadsheets to track and manage work? Trello’s free, flexible app is a great way to visualise your projects and organise the workflow of your entire team. Think of Trello as a communal notice board where colleagues can share ideas, identify who’s doing what, check when it’s been completed, see which tasks are outstanding, and review what’s in the pipeline. You can also write comments, or add photos, videos or PDFs to tasks, which automatically sync to everyone’s devices and save to the cloud.


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4. For tech-savvy teams: BIM Academy

Co-founded by Northumbria University and Ryder Architecture, BIM Academy helps project teams experience the full lifecycle of a building information modelling (BIM) project in the safe confines of virtual reality. It allows organisations to model and analyse their existing estates or projects in 3D, 4D and even 5D – which incorporates live cost modelling as the virtual model is subjected to changes – all without the risks or costs that arise on a real project. Teams can also be trained in specific BIM software, and the academy’s network of global offices are able to offer guidance to firms around the world.

5. For building managers: Locale

Whether you are an owner or manager, the day-to-day running of a building can be time consuming. Based securely in the cloud, Locale’s property management software helps you manage a building more effectively by providing visibility over everything, from facilities booking and building maintenance to deliveries and signing in visitors. It also helps occupiers stay in the loop with their local community via announcments and news. In addition, the software can also be customised to offer commercial or residential clients a branded portal, specific to the information and services they require.


BIM Infographic
Benefits of building information modelling

6. For those on the go: Klipboard

Businesses with highly mobile workforces can wave goodbye to the piles of paperwork that usually come with having employees out in the field. Aside from keeping track of employees and designating tasks, Klipboard helps you create and manage mobile forms for assessments, audit reports, maintenance records, inspections or surveys – anything where large amounts of data are captured out on site – and stores them securely in the cloud. Customer reports and invoices can also be branded for a personal touch, while signatures and images can be added to forms as proof of work or general compliance.

7. For property surveyors: GoReport

By using your iPhone or iPad, GoReport helps professionals capture building surveying and project management data quicker and easier than with the traditional pen, paper, camera and dictaphone. GoReport uses one device to capture all your notes, images, videos and sketches for a property survey, then stores this data in the cloud; making it accessible anywhere and to anyone on the team who has permission. The “SmartPins” function is also ideal for linking information to a specific location on an image, plan or site layout, so clients can better understand their data.

8. For your clients: Seeable

To help clients visualise projects, 3D models have become essential for surveying and construction firms. But what if clients could interact with them, too? Seeable makes 3D models accessible to a wider audience by incorporating elements of interactivity and exploration, via a technique called i3D. This allows users to explore a 3D environment without glasses, goggles or mobile device cameras, by using a mouse or touchscreen. More captivating than a slide show or video presentation, interactive 3D is a great way to impressively showcase a building, site or town masterplan.

9. For investors: Harness Property

We’re all familiar with seeing little or no results returned when looking for property to buy or rent online that fit our specific criteria. Harness, though, wants to do things a bit differently. By using a scoring system, users can easily obtain better information on how well properties match their specific needs. Rather than limiting your options, Harness scores a range of best matches from one to 10, based on your criteria, and unique to your search. Better matches have higher scores, so it should provide wider scope and help you efficiently decide whether a property is worth looking at.

10. For quantity surveyors: CostX

Many quantity surveyors still use paper-based methods for measurement works, including taking-off from construction drawings and transferring dimensions into spreadsheets to produce cost reports. CostX’s software automates processes to help speed up the preparation of estimates, tenders and bills of quantity. It can perform accurate and efficient measurements from data files of 2D drawings, and generate automatic quantities from BIM or 3D models. Ultimately, it can help teams reduce errors, improve design quality and add value across all processes during construction.

  • Brendon Hooper writes about the built environment and is a contributing editor on Modus.

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 edition of Modus.