This article has been published by Surveying Group in October 2020. Surveying Group offers digital media services for surveying professionals.
Times are changing quickly and what once was considered ‘normal’ or even ‘modern’ is referred to as ‘outdated’ by today’s standards. We store birthday pictures and videos on our phone instead of handcrafting an album on a rainy Sunday afternoon and save grocery lists in the Notes app. You see that in the word of land surveying as well. More and more people survey digitally and store their data in the cloud. So do our customers, by saving their surveyed points, lines, and polygons in the UNI-Cloud – where usability comes first and user experience is everything.
The UNI-Cloud is developed by marXact, a young Dutch start-up aiming to make universal and cost-efficient measurement solutions available to any person, any company, on any device, and using any app. This aim has led to their UNI-GR1 GNSS receiver and accompanying product portfolio, designed to create a full and comprehensive survey experience.
marXact CEO and co-founder Tommy van der Heijden: “Ever-since our founding in 2017, we’ve noticed that lots of companies can make improvements in how surveyed data is stored and when and how they have access to it. That is why we have created the UNI-Cloud, which we keep expending since first launching it. The UNI-Cloud is where everything comes together, as a personal data cloud for all your surveying work. Its usability is important to us, since that determines how much our customers work with it. We can all relate to that: if we don’t like the interface or speed of our smartphone, we are more inclined to replace it with a new one.”
How usability and user-friendliness are important to marXact, is to be recognized by the universal approach of working. Just look at the name of the products: UNI-GR1, UNI-Cloud, or UNI-Complete. Van der Heijden: “All names start with the letters ‘UNI’, which stands for ‘universal’. This means that all products can be integrated directly into your own software or equipment, even if they are not produced by us. This open system allows users to choose how they want to work, not how they have to work. Their options are not limited because our products only work with each other, we have written an API (Application Programming Interface) to make connections with apps and platforms created by other software developers. We are really putting users and easy working first.”
Changing the role of back-office workers
Putting users and their preferred method of generating, processing and, reviewing data even more in the limelight, marXact is always on the lookout for new ways to improve usability. New additions to the UNI-Cloud are made on the regular and current features are expanded to create new possibilities.
By storing data in the UNI-Cloud, data can be viewed directly after surveying, even without additional integrations. This means that, for example, contractors can survey out in the field, while a planner or manager can review the results immediately. This saves loads of time, since you do not have to come back to the office to import data from your GNSS receiver manually anymore. More important, driving back to the location when you’ve missed a point, is something from the past! This means your productivity will increase drastically and you can take on more jobs during a 40-hour workweek.
Changing the role of (back)office workers even more, is the ability to work with pre-set conditions or comprehensive profiles. Your office colleagues can create the project you need to fill with data, even up to the point where they make labels, layers, and objects. You make points by surveying and can save them as one of those 3 possibilities immediately. After finishing the job, your map shows all data in the designated label, layer, or object – you can even choose to display results from just one of those 3 for clarity.
To improve user experience and productivity, the interface comes with a button for remote assistance. Whenever a user has a question or comes into uncharted territory, they can count on the help of the UNI-Support team. Simply push the button and a telephone call to marXact HQ will be made immediately. And by using the personal PIN code delivered with each UNI-GR1 and choosing ‘Remote Assistance’ in the UNI-Cloud environment, this team can help you from afar. Even to the extend of taking over control and/or change settings to make improvements and answer questions. If that’s not user-friendly, we don’t know what is!
Working on a solid future for the cloud
Raoul van Ginkel is the other co-founder of marXact and its CTO. He gives a glimpse of what to expect when it comes to the UNI-Cloud and its usability. “We have so many plans and ideas for the UNI-Cloud. One is them is the possibility to import data from the office to a UNI-GR1 via the UNI-Cloud. This will increase the role of back-office employees even more, since they can prepare a survey project to its fullest extend and support their colleagues in the field even more. Time-saving and leading to more productivity as well.”
Users and usability first
Whatever the future for digital survey holds, no one knows for sure. But what the experts behind marXact do know, is that they’ll keep putting users and usability first with every new feature or update they release.