Ask the reader: What’s a good site surveying app?

SurveyorMy brother currently works for a private equity firm. At times he needs to survey a property and write a photographic report of it. Yes, being in a private equity firm, part of his job is to evaluate land, warehouses, factories, or other immobile properties of companies that the firm wishes to invest or currently invested in. These sites are often located far from the city – in an industrial complex or even farmland – and he needed to travel light to the location.

Most of the time he used his camera phone for the job, taking pictures of the site and then composes a Word document to report back for other colleagues that were often half a world away. These documents will form a part of the owning company’s asset portfolio documents which ultimately determines the book value of the company.

After doing this manually for a while, he found GeoCam Camera for Android to capture photographs on the site and automatically generates a PDF report of the site. This app came from a company named SITIS which apparently based in Russia based on their WHOIS data. In addition they also has a version for iOS: GeoCam AR Pro. It’s worth noting that SITIS calls these photographs geophoto because they are pictures containing geographical information – and not site survey reports.

Photos taken with GeoCam Camera will also have location and orientation data. You can see not only where the photo was taken but also where it faces. It also allows some textual notes to accompany each photo. With these information at hand, the app can create a pretty good looking site report of all the photos in a site.

In essence, the app saves my brother about half a day’s work of composing the photos in a Word document and reduces turnaround time of the report from one day to only a few minutes.  I see that this app would be useful not just to where my brother works but also for architects, building contractors, farmers, and even event organizers — yes, especially those who plan for outdoor events.

I was quite interested since we had a similar need ourselves but for indoor photographs. Last week we took a look of the soon-to-be-ours flat so that a contractor could take measurements for windows and paintings. I also needed to know where the power plugs are so that I could better arrange the placement of electronic equipments and the furniture that houses them. So I took pictures of those power plugs. Unfortunately after we got back, most of those photos were not useful since it doesn’t indicate which room was the photo taken and which direction the camera was facing.

I took the iOS version of GeoCam AR Pro for a spin (this was version 2.00.13141 posted on 2-Jun-2013). However I but find it too buggy for regular use in my iPhone 5: the camera buttons were off-screen and I wasn’t able to take any picture with the app. Basically it wasn’t usable. Maybe the Android version is top-notch since it bears 4.4 stars at the Google Play Store. However that’s not the case for their iOS version, as reflected in the 2.71 star rating in the iTunes App Store.

Then allow us to ask you, our dear readers. specifically if you do site surveys. How do you collect your property photos? Do you use any app? Please share which app do you use. Perhaps you’re still old-school and just collect these photos in a Word document for the report? What would you like to see in a site survey app? You can post a comment below or contact us privately.

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