By Nathan Jones, Technology Consultant
The great jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong once said, “Never play anything the same way twice.” In a career spanning five decades, he played some of his songs literally thousands of times, but never exactly the same way twice. Developing vegetation management software can sometimes feel that way; the software can be used by utilities for roughly the same purpose, but never quite the same way.
Sometimes the differences between utilities are small and sometimes they are great. What’s important to one utility may not be important to another. That’s why when we were constructing the framework for FieldNote, we always kept one word at the forefront of our minds – versatility. We knew that to be competitive, FieldNote needed to be useful in as many ways possible while still being simple to use. As FieldNote nears its first birthday, we find that we have not only succeeded in creating a powerfully versatile piece of software, but also one that is useful in ways that we could not have imagined.
One of the great strengths of FieldNote is the ability to easily customize what data is being collected in the field. This is a necessity in an environment where change comes rapidly, and an organization needs nimble software to react to those changes effectively. However, an equally important piece of the puzzle is how the data is packaged and analyzed after it is collected. Having large amounts of data is worthless without a mechanism that lets you filter and view the data in a meaningful way. The reporting and dashboard functionality in FieldNote allow users to create and save reports and dashboards that can be run in near real-time in order to make the most informed decisions possible.
But what happens when we shift our focus away from traditional field assets and toward one of the most important assets in the field – the men and women out there working every day? In the UVM world it is easy to view the world in terms of trees, line miles and equipment hours. These are all important, but not as important as ensuring that utility and contractor employees are returning home safely at the end of each day. That’s why TST is excited to partner with our sister company CNUC to create a safety focused app that is being used to capture and analyze safety data collected in the field.
CNUC has long had an industry leading safety program, putting the safety and well-being of employees first. Until now, however, they haven’t had a tool that allowed them to quickly and easily gather data from the field and analyze it all in one place. Previously, their paper-based system was like a lot of other companies; data would be manually captured in the field, painstakingly entered into spreadsheets, and then submitted to a central location where the data would be periodically analyzed as it trickled in from the field. That’s where we come in. FieldNote’s easy to use interface allows field users to quickly input data into custom forms and sync with a centralized server instantaneously. Data is immediately available to all users, and analysis is a snap with easy to use reports and dashboards. By monitoring key safety metrics, trends can be identified in near real-time and addressed at the field level before a major incident can occur. CNUC uses FieldNote to capture data regarding job briefings, vehicle checklists, safety audits, incident investigations, near miss reports, as well as many other safety related topics – all of which yield data that can be used to stay one step ahead of hazards on the job.
Keeping safe at work can be a fulltime job – we all know that. The next incident could be a misplaced traffic cone, broken tail-light or angry dog away. That’s why in a technology-driven society we need to make sure we are using every tool available to ensure we are making the most out of our work day – and that includes a dedication to getting home safely each day. With industry leaders like CNUC and TST teaming up to deliver innovative safety solutions, there’s no reason that the most important asset in the truck can’t make it home in one piece – you!