Guess what! Google once again allows you to share your location
Last week was pretty intense for Google Maps. A few days ago they announced a handy feature which allows saving location of a parking spot. Yesterday, the company unveiled a pretty awesome functionality for their maps, where you can share your real-time whereabouts with friends or colleagues. In my opinion, this is not only a convenient but strategic feature, that will boost user engagement of the product.
Why is that? Imagine that you are in a crowded space, or are late for a meeting. In such situations, you would like to share information about where you are and when you reach your destination. In this concept, you will open up the application and choose to share your exact location and trip progress with one or many people. Interestingly the app lets you set how long your location will be visible to others. Your selected friends will receive a link that opens inside Google Maps and shows your geographic position on the map. After you reach your destination point, you won’t broadcast your location anymore.
For those who are worried that their privacy might be at risk, there are reminders within the app to let them know that they are still broadcasting their whereabouts. Obviously, they will be able to stop it at any time. Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps said: “This is not a new concept, this is about making it simple, accessible and giving users a lot of control and privacy”.
I agree that the idea is not new. In 2009, the company launched a location-sharing app called Latitude which offered the same features. Unfortunately, it was closed due the low interest and lack of functionality (compared to FourSquare) on August 9, 2013. The major difference between the new feature in Google Maps and Latitude lies in term of control. The current idea was designed for short term use instead of the “always-on” location sharing, that was used in Latitude. Google announced that the feature is rolling out “soon” for iOS, Android, and the web. To understand how it works, check out this video. I can’t wait for the release!
Increase Efficiency in Tree Inventory and Inspection with GIS Cloud
In preparation to our GIS for Tree Maintenance and Inspection webinar, scheduled for 23rd of March, we bring you an overview how to increase efficiency in the tree inventory and inspection process using GIS Cloud in the 5 phases of your workflow.
Tree Inventory and Inspection is one of the most important tasks in the workflows of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry workers. While Arborists are more focused on the care of individual trees, those who work in Urban Forestry perceive forests as a system, frequently working on large scale projects that involve a lot of planning and different policies. Both of these fields rely on having good management systems, especially when it comes to tree inventory and inspection workflows.
GIS and mapping offer data collection, visualization, analysis and publishing solutions that can significantly increase efficiency in tree inventory and inspection. In forestry and arboriculture, a good overview of trees with pertaining data on a map is necessary for coordinating daily activities as well as for planning activities and maintenance on a longer scale. Most of larger organizations that take care of trees and forest already have a GIS system set in place. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the existing processes can’t be improved further by technology specially designed to provide real-time insight into the situation in the field.
GIS in the cloud enables not just real-time insight into the situation on the field, but also provides a next step for the desktop-based workflows. Let’s see how can cloud-based GIS help in making Tree Inventory and Inspection process more straightforward and efficient in all the phases of your workflow.
1.Real-time Data Collection
Instead of using paper reports for collecting data, GIS Cloud Mobile Data Collection allows you to collect data such as tree height, diameter, trimming status, diseases and other variables in real-time. Using smartphones and tablets, with a simple and user-friendly custom form you can collect different types of data including photos and audio recordings about a particular tree, that is instantly visible on a map, showing precise GPS coordinates of the each tree.
Mobile Data Collection also allows you to collect multiple photos and have an insight into the tree status over time as well as record regular maintenance and work orders. The mobile system saves you a lot of time as you don’t have to input data from paper maps and forms manually back in the office while allowing you to control the data quality by selecting required fields and options for data collection.
My workflow is much more efficient when using the GIS Cloud as a basis for my quotes and work orders and collection of all field data. I can easily find the geographic data I need regardless of when it was collected and allows me to focus more on care for the trees themselves and less on keeping track of all of the data.
2. Data Visualisation and Analysis
After the data is collected, it is instantly visible on a map. This data can be accessed on any device both in the field and the office. Managers and coordinators, as well as other staff, can access this data and visualize it in a way that suits the existing workflows. For example, trees from a particular area, diseased trees, or those that haven’t been trimmed can be marked with different colors and filtered on a map. You can choose different basemaps (Open Street Map, Mapbox, Satellite or Hybrid Maps), create polygons and use various GIS tools that can help you to visualize data in the best possible manner.
Data visualization in Map Editor, as well as basic analysis such as heat maps or buffers, can be achieved in a short amount of time even by users who don’t have previous experience with GIS technologies.
One of the most important aspects of making your Tree Inventory workflow more efficient is data sharing and coordination between the team members, both in the office and in the field. GIS Cloud allows you to share data as well as work orders with your staff, adjusting the level of access depending on a member’s role (user can be allowed only to view, or edit data, make reports, etc.). This can be a very useful feature when you want to share data with the external stakeholders such as other organizations, local government bodies or simply having an overview of the work done by your contractors. As the data is accessible on any device, where you can communicate on top of the existing data, you save a lot of time making the team communication more efficient and precise.
When leaving quotes to customers, I find that a picture or map, in this case, speaks louder than words and with GIS Cloud I can produce maps quickly to be attached to a written quote, so there is no question about what is to be carried out. This map is also used as a base to work orders, so the correct work is carried out on the correct trees (import when felling trees for obvious reasons.)
4. Publishing the results in a few clicks
In case you are doing a community project, as it was the case in the Maple Grove Tree Inventory project, and want to open your data to the public, you can do so in just a few clicks using Map Portal.
Map Portal allows you to create an interactive map portal, customized and branded depending on your needs, published on a separate domain. As all of your tree data is already in the cloud, setting up an interactive portal takes only a few minutes.
5. Reporting and Planning
One of the most important aspects of Tree Management, especially when it comes to tree inventory and inspection projects is reporting and planning activities based on the collected data. Instead of manually creating reports and losing time on the unnecessary papyrology, you can create a custom report in GIS Cloud in short amount of time and use it as a basis for future maintenance plans.
Interested in learning more about GIS Cloud tools for Tree Inventory And Inspection? Join our free webinar scheduled for 23 of March. Register here.