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Moving through today’s businesses is a constant stream of data. Technology has empowered business teams to review detailed updates, conduct real-time operational analysis and execute decisions based on that data instantly, without even leaving their desks. In-vehicle technology provides drivers with the information they need to anticipate changes in route or customer preference.
The volume of data and, more importantly, the poor quality of the data often makes decision making slower than it needs to be. The integration of GIS and mobile technology including Apps presents a solution.
GIS – The System of Record
The location data held within a GIS (Geographical Information System) can be second-to-none. Combine this location data with the task or job data in hand, as well as the asset information, and data efficacy soars. The interactive apps and the maps they provide allow for network-wide visualisations of assets, jobs, vehicles and people in near real-time. Access to location enabled asset data & job/task data becomes intuitive and centralised, allowing user access both to it and to the contextual data.
The data produced and available via GIS can empower the mobile workforces too. They are able to access it via smartphones, tablets and specialised mobile devices with apps that connect to the company’s central GIS system. When this connection is present, individuals in the office can delegate tasks to each mobile device. From there, any progress made by the mobile worker, such as with vehicle damage inspection or customer complaint resolution, can be instantly reported via the device to headquarters, viewed on a map with time & date stamp.
Management of Industry Challenges, and the Rise of Augmented Reality
GIS and app integration is instrumental to an organisation’s ability to tackle particular challenges. For example, a utility meter reading company which has integrated GIS with apps can track and monitors meter readers in real time. Any issues reported, such as faulty meters or even an emergency gas leak, can be acted upon instantly with the closest specialist team to the site dispatched by the HQ via the sending of the details to the team’s mobile devices. The cause of a leak can be reported right away by the field engineer in incredible detail. Augmented reality may well be applicable in the near future as details of the site can be stored in a centralised database, accessed via the mobile worker’s device, viewed through specialist glasses or headset with additional location data presented as a viewable ‘layer’. The number of customers affected by the leak is a vital piece of information and can allow the gas company to notify its customers right away that there is an issue.
Proactive Network Maintenance
GIS allows for the collection of data surrounding asset types; particularly the components used in their manufacture. This data can then be used by the GIS to create predictive models via the cross-referencing of asset data with weather conditions, soil type and similar information. With this level of data availability, preventive maintenance plans can be timed perfectly.
GIS Takes Place of Several Systems
Large organisations may have many challenges with regard to efficiency. This can occur when a wide number of software systems are relied upon for the successful completion of various tasks by employees in different areas of the organisation.
But when these many systems are replaced with a singular GIS/app integration, greatly improved efficiency can be the result. Suddenly, employees can work more productively in the field because there is no time wasted in searching for assets which may have been moved or in finding a location because of errors in direction. For example, GIS-based route optimisation sends individuals directly to the correct location when using specialist in-cab Navigation systems.
Integration Can Save Cost
Significant cost savings are another benefit of GIS/app integration. The smooth flow of information between field workers and headquarters means fewer staff are required for data processing. The simplified management of a single system versus the cost of managing several systems is another way that cost can be reduced. Data inaccuracies and the loss in data quality that result are also eliminated with the integration of GIS systems and apps with the GIS becoming the “Single Source of Truth” (see previous blog article).
There is no doubt that all of these benefits of GIS/app integration are helping to make large organisations far more efficient and agile than they use to be.