It’s not something at the forefront of many people’s mind, but when you think about it, most would agree, that trees contribute considerably to our lives in one way or another.
Whether they are softening the built environment in streets, parks and living spaces, changing the functional into more enjoyable spaces, forming part of an arboretum where protected species are maintained for future generations, or perhaps becoming a risk to surrounding buildings; in most cases they need some form of management.
So, it’s not what immediately comes to mind for ‘digital transformation’, but if you view a tree as an asset, its condition and lifetime information is just as relevant as anything else which would be traditionally flagged as a ‘managed asset’.
Work typically includes planning permission assessments, safety, risk and condition reports, general surveys and health checks with the information relating to trees existing for a lifetime.
And whilst a few older generic solutions exist, they can often not be flexible enough or meet the requirements of many organisations, leaving them to continue struggling on with the old favourite of clipboard and form, not fully realising the benefits that can achieved from a simpler, more focussed implementation of technology.
So for this project, existing systems didn't meet the brief, and a fast, low-cost, more flexible, simpler and effective solution was needed to help with the inspection, assessment and management of tree health.
With a small team of staff to carry out inspections, we needed to provide a mobile based solution which could be location aware and have access to all the historical information relating to the selected tree regardless of who had created previous records.
By providing access to all available tree species, common and botanical names, tree conditions, diseases, and decay symptoms we were able to ensure consistent and validated data for onward analysis, and the opportunity for future introduction of Machine Learning features for automated assessment and recommendations.
By ensuring it was linked to their accounts and authentication systems, we were able to allow users to log in using their Microsoft accounts and also access any financial information their role allowed them access to.
A key challenge was also making this work in the middle of a remote location, where there is no network coverage, synchronising back up when back in range.
In this case, we also provided the ruggedised iPads providing a single service and linked this up with an MDM (Mobile Device Management) which allows for automatic updates to the system to be pushed out to the devices, but also monitor the state of the devices and report this back to the organising team.
So, with this solution, the inspection team had a single, mobile platform which kept up to date, providing all the information they needed within an intuitive experience allowing them to focus on the job at hand.
When in an office context, we provided a desktop application, again with Single Sign-On, to allow management users to view, schedule, analyse and action activities across the team.
Through integration with a GIS (Geographic Information System) we were able to show the location of trees in-context, overlaying zones regions and custom information such as disease locations and progress of disease over time.
Information can be referenced from the Office 365 integration and production and storage of reports in PDF format are triggered manually or automatically, together with distribution to notified users.
Work orders can be actioned from the system, together with mobile notifications to ensure the inspector knows where they have to be, when and what they are to inspect.
Future plans will see integration with other systems to supplement organisational data producing further business value and extensions to the organisational workflows.
But as we said at the outset, a tree is just like any other asset with current, historical and predicted information, so if you have an inspection or assessment challenge, the same principles apply.
Thanks to low-code development, we were able to deliver this solution in a very short space of time and at a fraction of the cost of larger systems, so if you are an SME, disappointed with the on-line offerings and want to consider a solution that meets all your requirements, give us a call.
Leave your phone number or email address with us and we'll get back to you to discuss how we can help you with your next project.