We know that the accuracy of property placement on your report maps is absolutely critical. Appraisers constantly tell us it’s a critical function that lends credibility to your work. Today, most appraisers use WinTOTAL to automatically “geocode” their properties and place them on their maps. What does the term “geocoding” really mean? Geocoding is the process of assigning a latitude and longitude to map features like street addresses. There are several factors that can potentially affect the accuracy of geocoding, and often new properties may not geocode at all because they haven’t yet been added to the “system”. This is common in outlying rural areas and new construction areas.
So, what do you do when you’re working with a new construction subject that doesn’t geocode properly? You could let the mapping utility “guess” and then pan and zoom around until you find the correct point to place your balloon, but that can be tedious and time consuming. A better solution would be to collect and use the exact geo-coordinates yourself.
For years WinTOTAL has included the ability for you to manually enter latitude and longitude values in the mapping wizard so you can ensure your property placement is accurate. Those of you in more rural areas are familiar with this, and it’s an important feature. But because we’re never completely satisfied, we’re working on a project in the a la mode labs to allow you to import coordinates directly and automatically from your GPS device.(pq)
A prototype of this is now available for you to try out on our labs site (www.alamode.com/labs). Right now, you can download a prototype Map Wizard for WinTOTAL Aurora that will enable the ability to import waypoints (a location associated with a set of latitude and longitude coordinates) from your handheld GPS device. Once installed in WinTOTAL, you’ll have a new option in your Map Wizard called “Import from GPS device.” Just connect the USB cable to your GPS device and your PC, click the link in the Map Wizard, and WinTOTAL will automatically retrieve the waypoints and display a list of addresses from your report. Then simply check which waypoints you want to retrieve, and associate them with the proper address. WinTOTAL does the rest and you simply complete your mapping process as normal.
Currently, the prototype works with what we refer to as “handheld” GPS devices. These differ from dash mounted GPS devices or those built-in to your vehicle. These handheld devices are typically the size of a cell phone, and are sold at sporting goods stores, ranging in price from $200 to $500. With these devices, you can stand in the front yard, hit a button to save your current location as a waypoint (usually along with a note), and then later connect it to your PC so that you can retrieve saved waypoints for use in third party applications (in this case, WinTOTAL). Our prototype currently works with the Garmin eTrex line, and the Magellan eXplorist 210, 400, 500LE, 600 and XL models.
Ultimately, we’ll work to include the ability to retrieve waypoints from other dash-mounted and often less portable devices, like the Garmin nuvi, TomTom and CoPilot. To download a prototype of WinTOTAL Aurora’s Map Wizard that has GPS integration, visit www.alamode.com/labs. We’d love to get your feedback, and find out what other kinds of GPS devices you may be using in the field right now.