In September we noted that beginning in 1994, Dean learned the technologies and developed methods to remove the ties of a traditional office. With the Beers Team Noun Tour complete, its time to share some experiences in removing yourself from the traditional office or working in the field. Each month we will share 2-3 ideas in specific categories - from communication to productivity; and links to find our suggestions. This month we look at two - power and communication.
-- Power sources vary with need and location. RV life is a bit different, and takes some getting used to. You might have source power, or generator power. But, when on the move, or unable to use 110 power - what do you do? -- Power sources include converting 12w battery power to 110w (actually inverting)? Every investigator that is in the field or traveling needs this. From running your PC, to charging tablets and equipment - power is needed. How much depends on what you will run. We recommend at least two outlets and a USB port for charging phones. 750w to 1500w will take care of your needs and we liked the PowerDrive 1500.
We all need Internet! Smartphones are a must in today's professional and investigative world, but it's not enough. Mobile Internet is more difficult, and like power sources, you might have source Internet, and often free. But, free is like most things - you do get what you pay for.
-- Internet options include satellite to cell phone. We can't imagine our PI colleagues mounting a satellite to their vehicle - especially those involved in surveillance. You can use a cell service mobile hotspot, at about $50-$75 per month. We found AutoNet Mobile - using cellular services for as low as $30/mth! We had 95% coverage over 7K miles in 26 states. But, we like redundancy (part of the reason for constant mobile power). Many cell phone plans will allow adding a mobile hotspot data plan for $30. This is a good backup, and is also a good idea if more than one person is using the data (such as our agency). The mobile services allow access to cloud storage and even wireless peripherals - such as printers and scanners. The AutoNet is fully portable (using a hardwired cigarette lighter adapter) and your phone as a hotspot is handy at hotels, conferences and places you cannot get or have to pay for wi-fi.
Finally, communication. Email, phone and faxing and document storage all part of communication. We'll cover storage next month. For email, we simply suggest a web-based solution. Many clients, and some colleagues, use interoffice solutions - such as Outlook or Outlook Express. Although there are mobile solutions, there can be some difficulty for the novice to setup. Web-based is simple, available on every device from any place with access and free. Phone and fax services are different.
-- Phone and fax should be one solution, not two or three different solutions for one problem. We found Ring Central. The service requires no equipment and is user friendly. Extensions are available and can be programmed to follow to mobile or landline numbers of your choosing. Voicemail is available online and delivered to your email. Applications also allow for calling from your office number. Faxes are sent and received from your email! Just scan or save the document (Word or PDF) and send as a fax attachment or using the print to fax function. You can choose from toll-free or local phone numbers from every major city, and have separate voice and fax numbers, or one unified number. We have the unlimited service for under $40 per month.
Watch our blog at www.MedicolegalPI.com for our mobile PI and travel tips. For more information about what we use for our mobile needs, we feature these at http://amazon.PrivateInvestigations.org under 'Handy Gadgets'.
About Dean and Karen:
Dean and Karen are full-time RV Investigators (Team Beers) with their office based in Colorado.
Dean is a subject matter expert in the areas of death investigation and personal injury causation. He is the only Board Certified Legal Investigator (CLI) in northern Colorado, a faculty consultant and Certified Criminal Defense Investigator (CCDI) and is also a certified Medicolegal Death Investigator. He continues to speak extensively on investigative techniques and principles and has authored multiple peer-reviewed white papers, and self-published "Professional Investigations: Individual Locates, Backgrounds and Assets & Liabilities" and recently published "Practical Methods for Legal Investigations" (CRC Press) He currently consults nationwide as an expert in criminal defense homicide and civil equivocal death investigations.
Karen has been a Legal Investigator and research specialist, since 1996. She has a Bachelor's in Social Work from Colorado State University (Magna Cum Laude) and in 2011 earned the designation Certified Criminal Defense Investigator (CCDI). Together they operate Associates in Forensic Investigations, LLC. In addition to her skilled interactions with troubled youths, she trained and worked as a Deputy Coroner at the Larimer County Medical Examiner's Office. This background provides essential skills and knowledge in their Personal Injury, Negligence and Death investigations and consultations in Colorado and nationally. In addition, she has written for prominent professional investigation journals and was instrumental in the revisions and contributions to both agency books, as well as the co-development of "Death Investigations for Private Investigators" for PIEducation.com