Council goes mobile to boost biosecurity

Auckland regional council is a CWEA finalist in the category Mobile and Wireless Solutions

Auckland regional council’s wireless application allows biosecurity field officers to remotely upload and download spatial data using PDAs that connect to a centralised SQL server.

The officers need visiting times and property information, and they need to enter the location of any plant pest that might be found on a property, as well as other field information.

The biosecurity officers are often away from the central office in Auckland for days at a time, working from remote offices. When the officers log on to a standard computer at their remote office in the morning, they click a button that starts a process of downloading the latest data for their specific operational area. The downloading is automated via a user login.

During the day, the officers capture information out in the field via a Bluetooth GPS receiver or by clicking on a spot on a map on their PDA. Additional information can be typed in as required.

At the end of the day, the officers dock the PDA at the remote office and the application uploads the new data to the central office. The data is then checked and merged with other data from that same day and, overnight, it is merged with the central SQL server database. The collected data is also used to update a spatial web service that can be monitored by all the biosecurity officers, both from the central office and remotely.

Auckland regional council had three goals when developing and implementing the application: it would improve efficiency; it would be easy to use and it would require very little maintenance.

ARC has already seen benefits from the project in improved accuracy and timeliness of data, as well as a high level of user acceptance of the application.

ARC plans to further develop the application this year. Proposed improvements include integration with another biosecurity database at the server end, and “live” wireless synchronising of the database.

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