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TerraFlow Geomatics Inc is a Canadian technology company providing data collection, processing, and mapping solutions, primarily focused on utility and natural resource industries. They provide specialist expertise in field data collection, work, asset management and geographic information systems. This expertise is supported with innovative and highly configurable solutions to enable client specific workflows and system integrations.

With a client-focused approach to bringing innovative technology to the market, TerraFlow Geomatics required a trusted software development partner with proven cloud and geospatial expertise, preferably one they had previously worked with. This led to I‑Finity being the chosen development partner to support and deliver on TerraFlow Geomatics product roadmap with the use of scalable and reliable technology.

Delivering for Field Engineers managing Landfill sites

 

Field Engineers utilise specific hardware whilst they physically walk over a Landfill site where the key outcome is to capture the surface area with extremely high precision. The technology specification needed to provide:

  • Capability to connect with the hardware via Bluetooth

  • Ability to capture the surface area with extremely high precision

  • Precise measurements for the height of the Landfill

  • Ability to review differences in height between pre-defined surface and collected measurements

  • Robustness for data capture and syncing in remote locations

High accuracy and reliable technology to work effectively in remote locations

 

Landfill sites are found in extremely remote locations therefore capturing data and syncing it at the time of collection was essential. Field Engineers required a solution that enabled them to sync data immediately at their remote onsite offices. Lost data would be costly in terms of both time and budget.

Technical Scope for Landfill Manager Delivery

  • Developed a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) based application to run on Panasonic Toughpads - the hardware in use by Field Engineers

  • 3 System integrations:

    • Connected the WPF App to a high precision location device

    • Integrated the precision location device to provide landfill surface data for the App

    • Collected data sent from the app to the end customer’s ArcGIS instance

    • Integrated ArcGIS into FME (a 3rd party data processing system) to enable data to be analysed and processed data had to be synced whilst a Field Engineer is walking over a site, with keeping a cache of data and syncs occurring when back online

The integrations were pivotal in creating a complete solution to support the Field Engineers and the business data processing requirements. The App was the front-end interface for the Field Engineers and the platform choice was driven by the hardware investment that had already been made.

HIGH ACCURACY AND RELIABLE TECHNOLOGY

DATA COLLECTION IN REMOTE LOCATIONS

Technical Scope for Landfill Manager Delivery

  • Developed a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) based application to run on Panasonic Toughpads - the hardware in use by Field Engineers

  • 3 System integrations:

    • Connected the WPF App to a high precision location device

    • Integrated the precision location device to provide landfill surface data for the App

    • Collected data sent from the app to the end customer’s ArcGIS instance

    • Integrated ArcGIS into FME (a 3rd party data processing system) to enable data to be analysed and processed data had to be synced whilst a Field Engineer is walking over a site, with keeping a cache of data and syncs occurring when back online

The integrations were pivotal in creating a complete solution to support the Field Engineers and the business data processing requirements. The App was the front-end interface for the Field Engineers and the platform choice was driven by the hardware investment that had already been made.

Technical Approach to Complex Integrations

I-Finity’s approach involved spending time upfront scoping the API requirements to make the integrations function exactly as required.

Technical challenges that were overcome:

  • Data was being collected in remote locations therefore needed to be protected to prevent any data loss.

  • Dependency on ArcGIS capability where changes were being introduced during the development cycle which I‑Finity had no control over. Therefore, a reactive and adaptive approach to address breaking changes became part of the development lifecycle.

  • ArcGIS is a complex platform with it being highly configurable it presented the issue of being extremely sensitive.

  • Access to realistic test data that had the scale and quantity of data points Field Engineers deal with on a day-to-day basis was limited.

  • Optimising for Mobile as data was syncing in remote locations, the data itself being a file cache of a map therefore optimising for mobile was not easy to achieve.

The challenges were identified and understood during the planning phase enabling deep technical understanding. This informed I-Finity’s approach to achieving the optimal solution architecture to enable integrations between the different components and systems to work seamlessly.

Re-architecting onto Microsoft Azure Cloud

As TerraFlow Geomatics software development partner we continually review, consult and guide to support the product roadmap which continues to evolve to deliver on short- and longer-term goals. Landfill Manager was successfully delivered and operational with Field Engineers. The next phase of the development was to take the foundations of Landfill Manager to create a more generic data collection app. A key architectural decision was made to utilise Microsoft Azure for its reliability and scalability to easily grow and shrink the app as required to meet demand.  

Introducing TerraFlow Mobile

TerraFlow Mobile is an application that collects and inspects data - it has been architected to support advanced workflows that are configurable. The application supports field staff in being effective and efficient as possible. With TerraFlow Mobile clients can transform their paper workflows into an easy-to-use digital system for field-based data collection and more.

Introducing TerraFlow Data Engine

TerraFlow Data Engine automates data collection and provides an integration platform.  It supports a number of highly configurable data workflows including sending large files and modifying (transforming data) while it is being sent to a recipient.

In the scenario of having field sensors for weather, rain, airspeed for example, Data Engine can pull the data directly from the equipment and stream it into other systems. The sensors also include cable and radiation detection. Recent enhancements have provided the capability to generate KML files directly within Data Engine for export to enable data analysis.

The Results

Successful collaboration between TerraFlow Geomatics and I‑Finity resulted in:

  • TerraFlow provided the technical expertise on the hardware aspects, the requirements to integrate with ArcGIS and the understanding of business processes the App needed to capture.

  • I‑Finity provided its technical problem-solving skills to review all available technical documentation for ArcGIS, FME and the high precision location device. Whilst architecting a solution that delivered on scale, reliability, connectivity, and high performance.

Initially a proof of concept was developed to prove the technical thinking worked as expected and enabled the resolution of unknowns that often come up during a build phase. This was supported with extensive testing processes in a test environment that closely matched production this was critical to the success of delivery.

Clients using TerraFlow technology come from those within engineering, surveying, construction, utilities who need to measure, analyse, design, and build efficiently. TerraFlow bridges the gap between field and desk with automated and configurable data collection technology.

Ongoing Partnership

I‑Finity remains as TerraFlow Geomatics development partner in delivering ongoing development, support, and maintenance. Over the years new capability and enhancements continue to be rolled out in line with the product roadmap. End user feedback and the need to support additional hardware continues to shape requirements.

TerraFlow remains committed to providing innovative solutions and continues to expand use cases across multiple sectors. Today they help municipalities, utilities, associations, resource, and engineering firms to use geographic information compile and share data wherever needed.

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