Home' Position : Position 85 Oct-Nov 2016 Contents The Kata Tjuta (left) and Uluru rock formations cover
just a fraction of the Northern Territory’s extensive
remote areas. Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA.
Together, Global GBM and the NT Government jointly
delivered a successful fast-track project with Global GBM’s
new ‘konect’ field work package as part of an early adopter
program. Armed with a konect-enabled tablet, phone or
computer, a road inspector is now able harness the power of
smart forms, interactive maps, GPS tracking, data collection
and spatial analysis. With it came not only the ability to
continue work in the field, but also a boost to productivity,
economy and safety.
Field teams rejoice
Traditionally, a road inspector in the Territory would need to
travel each road segment and log the location of defects, relative
to chainages along the road. They would then return to the office
with a list of defects that a supervisor would log as work for field
crews, who would then search for the defect, perform any work
required, and report back to the office in person.
With so much back and forth, this workflow consumed a
large number of man hours, was prone to errors, and in a place
like the Northern Territory, could often expose field workers to
any number of hazards.
To assist workers in locating an area of interest, konect has
inbuilt GPS and mobile maps. Without these navigational aids,
crews tend to waste time locating and re-locating work sites.
Photographs and maps from previous konect-empowered field
workers also clear any uncertainty around work assignments.
When it is time to start work on a Territory road, it is more
than likely to be out of range of any telecommunications
connection, mobile or not. To overcome this, any data collected,
maps edited or photographs taken using konect are locally
retained until network connectivity is restored, at which point
any data are communicated back to headquarters.
With traditional text-based apps, it is also difficult for operators
to give any geographic meaning to areas of interest, and it is even
more difficult for supervisors to visualise the locations or sites and
therefore assign work to maximise efficiency.
To keep track of work with konect, roads are tagged as
they are inspected so crews can easily see what work has been
completed and what roads remain to inspect. Defect lists arrive
at the office electronically, marked on maps with standardised
descriptions and photographs.
Back in the office, konect also makes it much easier for
supervisors to identify the critical works and
prioritise works by geographic region. Once
authorised, works are available for immediate
execution by the work crews, who may very
well already be in the field.
Future of field work
In an age when technology is available to improve productivity,
economy and safety, a system like konect ticks all the boxes
of just about any organisation that relies on field operations.
As part of the Global GBM early adopter program, road
inspection is one of many diverse applications benefiting
from konect, including mineral exploration, environmental
services, vegetation management, local government inspection,
telecommunications and infrastructure maintenance.
Global GBM CEO Ken Moule sees this as a new revolution in
which geospatial technologies can contribute to the bottom line
of any business that has personnel who work outside the office.
“Office automation transformed our businesses in the 80’s,”
Mr Moule said. “It heralded a massive productivity boost but
that revolution failed to extend beyond the office door.”
“For the most part, data flow around field processes remains
antiquated and inefficient. There is often limited head office
visibility around what actually happens in the field and
inefficient shuffling of paperwork and messages compared with
how we run our office-based business systems.
“That means 30% of the global workforce is working with
business systems that are over 30 years behind the times.”
As part of this revolution, Mr Moule envisages that
thousands of organisations across the globe could benefit from
a solution like konect.
“Just as the advent of economically priced PC systems was
the catalyst for office automation, the recent availability of
smartphones, mobile device savvy populace and wireless data
has set the environment for automating field processes and
directly linking them into the corporate workflow,” he said.
“Konect is about IT automation for field workers. It delivers
Konect will continue to evolve with a host of plans on
the horizon to realise a future of corporate-wide electronic
workflows across a range of industries.
To enable this, Global GBM is currently, among other things,
building a web dashboard to present management insights, adding
extensions to service WH&S compliance, moving towards crowd
sourcing information on land conditions and the environment, as
well as delivering new emergency management mapping solutions.
As for the Northern Territory workers though, it’s becoming
increasingly hard to find an excuse to stop off at the Devil’s Marbles,
Katherine Gorge or one of the many natural springs.
Anthony Wallace is the editor of Position
magazine and Spatial Source and recently made
the arduous journey from Alice Springs to Darwin,
immensely enjoying each of the 1,500 kilometres. ■
The Northern Territory has a 35,725km road
network, only 25 per cent of which is sealed.
enables workers both
in the field and office.
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