Location Intelligence Helps Organisations Improve Efficiency and Refine their Field Operations

Feb 09, 2021 • FeaturesWhite PaperDigital Transformationfield service managementSoftware and AppsEsri UK

In this second excerpt from a recent white paper published by Esri UK, now available at Field Service News, we look at two case studies of how location intelligence helps organisation improving efficiency and refine field operations.

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Last week, we looked at how using the power of location can improve field service operations. Today we look at two case studies describing how the use of Esri's ArcGIS platform can help companies in challenging situations.


Amid concerns about the possible emergence of a deadly new plant disease, Fera Science has created an ArcGIS app and dashboard to enable hoticulturalists to coordinate thousands of plant and tree inspections nationwide.

The Challenge

One of the most damaging plant bacteria ever identified is spreading in countries around the world. Called xylella fastidiosa (Xf), it has been detected in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal and, if it were to gain a foothold in the UK, it could affect dozens of plant species, including elm, plane and oak trees.

The Solution

Working with APHA, Fera Science has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to develop a complete end-to-end solution to support plant inspections, including testing plant samples and tracing of the spread of the disease.

When a first case of Xf is detected in the UK, a geoprocessing model, developed using Esri’s ModelBuilder, will create the initial inspection zone around the plant, divided into 100 metre and 1 km grid squares. Inspectors will then use an intuitive app, created with Esri’s Collector for ArcGIS, to view interactive maps of their assigned inspection grids, on their mobile devices, and inspect up to 50 host plants in each square. They will collect a sample from each plant, put the sample into a bag with a barcode and use the Collector app to record the barcode, together with the location of the plant, plant health observations and pictures.

When laboratories test the samples, the results will be recorded against the barcodes and uploaded via a web portal to ArcGIS. Python scripts, developed by Esri UK’s Professional Services team, will combine the test results with the data collected in the field and categorise each plant as either diseased, free of disease or inconclusive test. All the data will then be visibleon an Esri Operations Dashboard, enabling APHA, DEFRA and other key stakeholders to view the locations and health of each inspected plant in near real time. Whenever a new positive result is recorded, the surrounding inspection zones will be automatically created, allowing inspectors to start collecting new samples straight away.

The Benefits

Real-time data to trace the spread of disease

If Xf is detected in the UK, APHA will be able to see near real-time data on diseased plants and their locations, all around the UK. The ArcGIS dashboard presents the data in a spatial, map-based format that is simple to understand at a glance, enabling people to trace the spread of the disease very easily. Users can see which grid squares have been inspected, monitor the progress of inspections and identify where best to allocate resources based on the latest test results.

Effective collaboration of many stakeholders

The ArcGIS solution can be used by multiple stakeholders, not just APHA. Therefore, in the case of a major outbreak of Xf, inspectors from other organisations and landowners, such as the Forestry Commission, could use the Collector app on their own mobile devices to collect standardised data and samples in a coordinated approach. Other organisations can also be given access to the same Esri dashboard enabling them to collaborate more effectively with APHA and implement joined-up strategies to detect and eventually eradicate the disease from the UK completely.


Working at the scene of some of the world’s most devastating humanitarian disasters, this volunteer-driven charity uses Esri’s ArcGIS to produce up-to-date maps for humanitarian aid organisations. Its new Kiosk product makes vitally important location-based intelligence available to aid workers in digital formats, helping them to respond more quickly and, ultimately, help save more lives.

The Challenge

Since its inception in 2002, MapAction has become an indispensable part of the global response to humanitarian crises. As soon as its volunteer teams, who are specially trained in disaster response, arrive in affected areas, their services are in high demand from multiple organisations. Consequently, on-the-ground teams face growing pressure to produce and distribute more maps, more quickly.

The Solution

Esri UK has supported the work of MapAction for over twelve years, and ArcGIS, Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) platform, plays a pivotal role in the delivery of MapAction’s emergency mapping service. MapAction secured funding for a new ‘selfservice’ mapping facility, and sought out the expertise of Esri UK’s professional services team to help it design and deliver this inventive project using ArcGIS.

Named the MapAction Kiosk, the new GIS solution developed operates using the principles of web mapping and runs on a lightweight laptop connected to a powerful WiFi router. Aid workers in the vicinity of MapAction’s field base can connect to the Kiosk via WiFi and print additional copies of any maps produced by MapAction’s volunteer team. In addition, they can view interactive maps, zoom into specific regions and turn on required data layers to create any customised maps that they might need to inform aid missions. Finally, responders can use the Kiosk to download MapAction’s up-to-date spatial data and incorporate it into their own GIS systems.

The Benefits

MapAction will continue to produce the paper maps that aid organisations around the world have come to rely on. However, now, this unique charity will also be able to make its invaluable location- based intelligence accessible in digital formats to many more people, more quickly, to improve the effectiveness of life-saving humanitarian missions.

Notably, the MapAction Kiosk will help the charity to distribute its maps to aid workers who might otherwise not have had access to a paper copy. It will therefore make situational data accessible to a wider audience and facilitate greater collaboration between multiple aid agencies and local groups. Pennells says: “The Kiosk helps us to give a common operational picture to all responders and agencies working on-the- ground in a disaster situation. The sooner they have this shared knowledge, the closer they can work together to reach people at risk.”

In addition, the Kiosk gives aid workers the ability to create their own customised maps for the first time. They can gain instant access to the mapping intelligence they need – in the precise format they need it – to enable them to respond quickly to emerging new scenarios.

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Look out for the next feature in this series coming next week where we look at two additional case studies and discuss how companies can achieve optimised field operations.

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Further Reading:

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