Column for Digitaal Draagvlak: certainty based on data

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This column has been published by Digitaal Draagvlak in September 2020. Digitaal Draagvlak is thé knowledge platform for modern environment communication in The Netherlands.

Digitization is all around us, at work, at home, and in the car. Do you already use a robot vacuum cleaner or do you still do it yourself? Do you meet up with friends at a five-feet distance or do you video call to see each other weekly, and have you digitized your work processes already? When I look at myself, it is a little bit of everything: I still vacuum myself, see friends digitally and physically, but processes are digitized at work.

You are undoubtedly involved in digitally recording processes as an environmental manager, how far have you progressed with that? Have you taken future connectivity and information sharing with stakeholders into account? And when you share information, how sure are you? Just three questions to make you think early in the morning / at the end of the day.

Data and digitization

You bring the interests of all stakeholders together on a daily basis, from clients to local residents and from contractors to buyers. All these interests are different in nature and you have to take them all into account. So where do you start? At the foundation, to stick to construction terms. One of the biggest challenges for an environment manager is finding specific information to share, because where do you get it from? (Modern) surveying helps you with this.

This starts with easy digital generation and the subsequent storage of data, new-style surveying. This data is obtained through digital surveying using GNSS receivers – which use satellite signals to determine an exact position. Digitization plays an important role in this, it has simplified surveying and gives us all the opportunity to perform these activities ourselves and to synchronize them with GIS tools. Not unimportant now that fewer surveyors are being trained and modern alternatives are needed. For environment managers, this method provides more information, control, and certainty.

Final result and environment are leading

In projects, the final result and the environment are leading. Success can not only be seen in (financial) results, but also in mutual relationships and reputation. Accurate information contributes to this. By surveying with a GNSS receiver, a much more detailed quotation or implementation plan can be made. This touches the interface client/purchaser because finances play an important role in this and can provide environment managers with more specific information. The more details are known, the more specific purchases can be made and more (financial) security is provided.

Certainty and specific information are – logically – also important for people living in the vicinity of a project, that is where their needs lie. Nobody wants to experience nuisance, but a reliable indication of the days and times when there is nuisance already removes a lot of resistance. Let’s say that fiber optic cables are being laid in an existing residential area, so it is nice to know when your house or street is due. Around this topic, the environment manager can have several concrete communication moments and plan resources, tailored to the streets in that particular week. This can include who’s turn when, how long the project (for you as a resident) will last, and which streets are closed when and which diversion routes there are as a result. This time schedule is also important when applying for and obtaining permits, budgets, environmental communication, and more. There are stakeholders everywhere that you as an environment manager must provide with information, it is up to you to determine how specific you want to be.

In practice

Jeroen Waanders is an information advisor at Waterschap Drents Overijsselse Delta and has been working with GNSS receivers for some time now. “I also look to the future with an oblique eye. For example, we have started to experiment carefully and practice placing the devices on vehicles. Connecting to rolling stock can offer us even more advantages and save time, especially when measuring long sections. ”

“We mainly use marXact UNI-GR1 GNSS receivers for survey work at, for example, house connections, gullies and well edges. Then it is handy that putting points back is very easy, you don’t actually have to search to see where you have left off ”, says STRABAG Nederland head contractor Sander Lendemeijer. Not having to search increases the speed of work, even down to the level of detail. And again this contributes to the precise information with which environmental managers work and communicate (on) to stakeholders.

Playing together is sharing together

Environment management is universal in its character, due to the many stakeholders and their respective interests. Giving everyone involved the feeling that they are being heard and seen is a balance that you try to maintain on a daily basis. It’s playing, it’s sharing, it’s together.

Choose a modern approach and ways to offer the different target groups the most certainty, to provide the most concrete information and use this information to share with your stakeholders and thus serve them tailor-made and give guarantees. A certainty based on data.

I would like to end this column with a piece of advice to the readers of Digitaal Draagvlak. Environment managers must open GIS (Geographic Information System) systems to supplement data. It must become easier for contractors, excavation workers, surveyors, and any other collaborating party to supply data into that GIS system directly. Ready for the owner to check and accept this data.

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