The Davenport Group released the first version of its ‘LAMA Mobile’ Android app in 2014. The new app marks a significant addition to the LAMA Software Suite and offers clients many new features and benefits. The Android app is the Davenport Group’s first app built for mobile devices but it is not actually the company’s first mobile app. The main product, ‘LAMA Server’, features a mobile mode so it can be run on laptops out in the field and then synchronized later with the server when the user returns to the office. While this solution provides the mobile user with the full power of the desktop program, the Davenport Group wanted to build a simpler version of the program designed especially for inspectors. The Android framework is the perfect foundation for the app because it is easy to maintain, available on the widest array of mobile devices, and it integrates the latest mobile technologies.
Since ‘LAMA Mobile’ was built for inspectors, the app’s design revolves around scheduling and completing inspections in an efficient, intuitive way. Inspectors can schedule and manage their inspections on a calendar. Then as they complete individual inspections, they can sift through preset checklist items (Sections of code commonly cited for the respective inspection type), add custom items (Voice recognition or keyboard input), search the code database, and take pictures to upload with the inspection. Once the inspection is complete, users can email or print an inspection report and manually upload the completed data. Cellphone network dead zones aren’t a problem since the app stores all edits locally. Users can complete inspections without service and then upload edited data when their cell coverage returns or when they access a WiFi signal. The app even includes an automatic sync setting that will automatically download newly scheduled inspections and upload edited data nightly.
While completing inspections is the main function of the app, it can also be used to access many other forms of data. When an inspection is downloaded, its respective permit, code incident, or project is downloaded with it. There inspectors can access contact information and with one click they can email or call the property owner, contractor, etc. They can also access any documents and property information associated to the record. Furthermore, the app includes a search feature so users can search for any record in the system on the fly. For example, if inspectors see active work that they weren’t aware of when they are out in the field, they can search for their current location and find out if the work is permitted. The app’s icing on the cake is its map interface for locational data. It leverages Google’s Navigation API to create an optimal route between inspections for a given day. The route is then displayed on a Google Map view with directions between each waypoint. Inspectors can also use the map to view or download data that is located within the current extent of the map.
And because it is an Android application, ‘LAMA Mobile’ is incredibly easy to implement. The client initially distributes one installation file and the app will automatically update itself when new versions are available. The app provides options for working with hardware budget restrictions as well. Android supports a wide range of affordable devices and ‘LAMA Mobile’ was built so that users can share devices. Each user logs-in using their main LAMA account and the app will save/schedule data relative to the active user.
The City of New Orleans is one of the Davenport Group’s first clients to start using the Android app. Jennifer Cecil is the director of the New Orleans ‘One Stop for Permits & Licenses’ department and she lead the implementation. Here is her review of the app:
“The LAMA App allows my inspectors create smart routes for inspections, view violations and permits in their area through an interactive map, and create new violation cases in the field. The disconnected mode option allows inspections to be entered even when we are outside of cellular networks. Because of adjustable text size and easy to use pass/fail buttons, I no longer have pay for maintenance and cellular services on Toughbooks or tablets. We’ve also been able to eliminate cameras – our inspectors are able to take photos on their phones from within the app. If their supervisor needs to see it, inspectors can sync right away and the information and pictures will be available in the office instantly. Because we scan all plans and applications at the office, it’s easy for my inspectors to resolve any disputes about scope of work while in the field by accessing documents through the App.”
‘LAMA Mobile’ for Android is just the beginning of the Davenport Group’s expansion to mobile technologies. Plans are underway to release versions of the app for the iPhone & Windows Mobile frameworks as well. These new apps demonstrate the company’s commitment to incorporate new technologies and provide the best value to its customers.