Flowfinity has made communication, with Project Managers for example, a lot easier. Staff who are not on site receive data from the field staff ASAP making reporting and other project tasks easier and more efficient.
Environmental Consultancy Boosts Efficiency of Field Data Collection and Reporting
Company Size: Medium Enterprise
Industry: Environmental Consultancy
Function: Field Data Collection and Analysis, GIS Mapping
At a Glance
Hemmera is a leading environmental consultancy that delivers a range of services including Site Assessment and Remediation, Planning and Management, and Community Engagement and Social Sciences. With a large team of professionals performing high-value activities in the field, Hemmera is continually looking for ways to improve the efficiency of field data collection and reporting, and communicating that information to clients.
The paper forms, digital cameras and commercial handheld devices previously being used in the field were causing inefficiencies, which prompted the company to search for a mobile platform. The platform needed to support the quick creation and deployment of many different apps for various projects, be easy to use, and have flexible integration capabilities.
Hemmera selected Flowfinity to streamline field data collection and integrate directly with other systems in use including Esri's ArcGIS software and Hemmera’s Lab Data Management System.
Since adopting Flowfinity, Hemmera has:
- Reduced the workload of post field work data entry and other administrative tasks for its highly skilled field team
- Guaranteed against data loss, even when working offline
- Achieved real-time reporting from the field with higher data accuracy
- Gained a flexible platform for quickly building and deploying various apps for different projects and departments
- Improved customer service through more efficient reporting
- Complemented the existing Web Mapping toolkit through database integration
- Gained a competitive advantage by leading with the latest mobile technology
"We are saving an average of 1-2 hours a day in reporting and reviewing time," said a Planning and Management Project Manager, Hemmera. "It has reduced the amount of paper we use on-site to almost nothing as we can enter data directly into the form without having to take field notes. We are also able to instantaneously update the client on incidents or activities on-site as needed."
"We are saving an average of 1-2 hours a day in reporting and reviewing time."
Prior to using Flowfinity, Hemmera was primarily using paper forms to write down field data, which later had to be transcribed into spreadsheets at the office. Any photos taken with cameras had to be downloaded and manually tagged and filed with the correct records.
Re-keying the data was often done by highly trained professionals such as Environmental Scientists and Biologists who completed the field work. Data entry was time consuming and also introduced errors, which had to be reviewed and corrected before reports could be finalized.
"The biggest pain point was taking measurements with paper in the field, the task of transcribing them in the office, and the errors that were introduced during that," said Catherine Ennis, Data and Web Mapping Manager, Hemmera. "We knew that there were more efficient ways to collect and manage the data."
The right solution needed to accommodate business processes ranging from soil remediation to wildlife mapping to incident reports at job sites. To accommodate a wide variety of data management activities, Hemmera had the following key criteria for selecting a mobile platform:
- Ability to quickly create apps and deploy them to specific users for various projects
- Customizable role-based apps, views, activities and workflows
- Intuitive user interface to facilitate user adoption with minimal training
- Support for nested fields and complex data structures
- Direct access to the mobile platform database to facilitate integration with other systems including GIS desktop and web mapping software
- On-premise hosting instead of cloud hosting to meet client data security requirements
- Ability to perform complex on-the-fly calculations on devices, in offline mode
"Flowfinity was able to meet our stringent requirements for a mobile data collection platform, and we were happy with the support team," said Ennis.
Streamlined Data Collection Saves Time in the Field and at the Office
Since implementing Flowfinity, Hemmera has achieved significant time savings. Data collected in the field is entered directly into mobile iPad forms, resulting in higher quality, real-time data that requires fewer revisions.
“Flowfinity has streamlined the data entry/transcription process. Depending on the amount of field work, I would say that it saves about half an hour of desk work per hour of field work," said Renae Mackas, Biologist, Hemmera.
The flexibility of Flowfinity makes it possible for the data management team to match each project's requirements for workflows, on-device calculations, and specific tasks. For example, one app takes full advantage of Flowfinity formulas to calculate a linear fit for instrument calibrations, all on the device. This increases the efficiency of collecting data and analyzing it after the field work is complete.
"Flowfinity was able to meet our stringent requirements for a mobile data collection platform."
"Flowfinity has made communication, with Project Managers for example, a lot easier. Staff who are not on site receive data from the field staff ASAP making reporting and other project tasks easier and more efficient," said an Environmental Scientist, Hemmera.
Real Time Information Improves Project Management and Customer Service
With real time information from the field, Project Managers can manage progress remotely and stay informed of any issues requiring immediate attention
“Flowfinity has definitely streamlined our field reporting process. We are using it for a project which I manage and supervise remotely, and I am able to get regular updates through the email reporting system," said a Project Manager. "The detail we are able to include means that I have a very clear understanding of the day-to-day activities on my site, and I can have immediate input into reporting."
"Clients are going to start expecting real-time information, and we're able to deliver that."
Instant reports are particularly useful if any incidents occur that need to be addressed right away.
"Our managers really appreciate that if there is an environmental incident, they can get a report including details, photos and GPS coordinates from their staff in the field almost instantly," said Lorin Gaertner, Data and Web Mapping Specialist, Hemmera. "They don't need to prepare a report based on hand-written notes the next day or later."
Agile Mobile Platform Reduces App Deployment and Training Time
Flowfinity makes it easy to customize apps without programming, which has facilitated quick turnaround times for launching new apps at Hemmera. The data management team often has to design and deploy app solutions within a day to meet the needs of different project teams.
"In our experience it has been quick and straightforward for us to train other people in the team in app building," said Ennis. "End user training was very minimal.. We've had really positive feedback from our users."
Flowfinity Complements GIS and Web Mapping Solutions
Hemmera has a Geomatics data management team that offers tailored solutions to help organizations better manage and visualize data. The team has successfully integrated Flowfinity apps with Esri's ArcGIS software, extending the mapping system with mobile data collection and workflow features for specific tasks.
One project allows field staff to enter data in a Flowfinity app that corresponds to a specific map grid region on a map layer. In real-time, that region is marked in a different color on a Web Map which is available to both field staff on an iPad and office staff on a computer.
Selecting the grid region on the web map shows a popup of data collected in Flowfinity, and data which has been automatically exported from the Flowfinity database to Hemmera’s Lab Data Management System.
Another project uses Flowfinity's proximity lookup feature to pull up a list of available grids based on the user's current location. The user can then select the appropriate grid and enter the required data.
Mobile Technology Delivers Competitive Advantage
As a successful environmental consultancy, Hemmera regularly bids on new projects, and now includes Flowfinity as an advanced mobile technology tool supporting real-time field data collection and reporting.
"Clients are going to start expecting real-time information, and we're able to deliver that," said Gaertner.
Ennis adds, "With Flowfinity we are much better connected to our field staff and clients, and they recognize and value our cutting edge ability to integrate technology."