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New Technology

We’ve recently started using iPads as field tools for data capture. In other words, the field notebooks and clipboards that we’ve always used to record conditions on site are being replaced by the ability to draw electronically and mark up PDFs of drawings on the iPad. For drawing, we’re using Penultimate and Sketchbook. For red-lining PDFs we’re using GoodReader. (Obviously, there are many good apps available. These are ones we’ve settled on, but that doesn’t mean that people with different taste or different requirements won’t do just as well with other apps.)

The big advantages of this change are that:

  1. all of field notes will now be stored on our server where they will be (a) available all the time to everyone in the office and (b) backed-up in the same manner as all our other critical data;
  2. we have the capability of distributing (via email) field sketches or memos from the field;
  3. we can carry a library of repair details and applicable reports with us for comparison to field conditions.
This has been a sudden development in the last year, sixteen years after I bought a Newton hoping to achieve these results. The future of this technology extends much further: we have recently begun experimenting with an FEM analysis program (CASA) for the iPad that seems to be able to substitute for more complex and expensive desktop software. More on this as it develops…