Using Google Apps Scripts to automate conformance reporting for clients

CGS have been adopting Google Sheets for most reporting in recent projects. Utilising this versatile tool along with some custom "Google Apps Script" we have been able to offer our clients close to "real-time" conformance results.

The basic procedure is:

  1. Conventional on site survey to QA the finished asset
  2. Once the data has been manually checked and verified as accurate, it is processed and exported in one mouse click in our CAD software 12d using a custom "chain" and "macro"
  3. The data is then automatically imported into its respective tab of our clients conformance sheet using a "Google Apps Script"
  4. Finally a pdf is exported of newly added data, as well as a snapshot pdf of all current data and sent to a distribution list of client personnel dependant on which section of the job the data is in.

The beauty of this procedure is that, other than the conventional survey to collect the data and the one mouse click in 12d the rest is entirely automated!

Also, as well as having the pdf exports emailed, we also give our clients access to their own copy of the entire Google sheet, meaning they can have current data minutes after it has been surveyed in the field.

The subgrade example above shows a typical sheet with the custom menu options for use by us and the client. Giving them the ability to filter by chainage range and date range in this example then export a pdf of the area/layer in question to a shared Google Drive folder with the correct standardised naming convention, date, signatures, logos, etc all done automatically.

Another advantage of doing these tasks via a script is inbuilt error checking. For example below is a warning that appears if gaps in the data are identified greater than 50 meters in chainage:

Prior to the use of Google Sheets this process was a painfully laborious task taking hours every day for a data processor. As well as the unavoidable manual QA checks on the data, the data processor would also have to do manual exports from 12d, then formatting in Microsoft Office and other applications using templates, and then manually emailing to relevant personnel.

Using this system our clients have current data at their fingertips shortly after construction is completed and are able to interrogate the entire data set or filter it as they wish without having to wait for an email from an ever frustrated surveyor to get back to them!

If you would like more information about having these systems introduced for your reporting get in touch for a demo.

CGS's latest employee - The Tiny Surveyor

We recently added a new member to the team in the form of "The Tiny Surveyor" a three-wheeled robot advertised as "The world’s fastest robot for stake-out" saving time (and backs) on 200km of set-out

It is well understood that set-out surveys require high levels of precision and accuracy. So critical is the need for accurate set-out that the timeframe is often just accepted for what it is. This is where automation comes in.

Our crews working on a major rail project in Queensland have been achieving remarkable efficiency setting out marks to align the sleepers and rail for over 200km of track using the Tiny Surveyor Robot.

This is a line marking tool that integrates with a GNSS receiver or total station and accurately marks the guidelines for track laying and sleeper laying machines with standard marker spray. It travels along at a good clip (jogging speed for most of us) and sprays the marks as it goes to RTK accuracies.

Our team is excited to use it on line-marking work for road construction jobs as they know it will save hours of back-breaking work. We are also busy exploring the benefits of other automated technology for setting out and how we can save on time without compromising accuracy.

Check out the time-lapse video below of the robot marking part of a 4km section along the alignment that was completed in less than an hour.

Practical Applications of Geographic Information Systems

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a system used to gather data and incorporate it in order to store, scrutinize, distribute, and show geographic information. GIS data displays actual world features such as elevations, terrain, and transportation networks, in a digital format.

Images that are displayed come from the area where the information was retrieved. Users can take the information for such purposes as analysing the digitally displayed data, mapping the data, and editing the data. A GIS will include application software for aerial photography, surveying land, extensive geographical mapping, remote sensing, and much more. It is often used to study global problems in an effort to find solutions much more quickly.

Recently, Geographic Information Systems have been developed to be used by the public. For instance, Bing Maps and Google Maps are GIS applications now used by millions of people around the world. Through interactive web mapping, the public now has access to large volumes of geographical information. Another important use of GIS is its use when studying climate change. It is now used in the tracking and analyzing of data regarding the impact of climate change. For example, GIS is used to study the ice melting in the Arctic.

Earthquake mapping is another way one can use GIS. One can map tectonic shifts in high risk earthquake areas for public safety planning and business development such as determining insurance rates. In regards to business marketing techniques, a business can use GIS to analyse demographic data to find regions where they will likely sell their products or services. Governments can utilize GIS to analyse census information such as health and education statistics. This is helpful for creating or modifying public policies and government spending. It can also provide health research assistance such as analysing heart disease research data. As well, it can help with the creation of jobs in the appropriate regions which can give a boost to the economy.

Not only is GIS technology used for climate change research, it can be used for security and law enforcement logistics, urban planning and development such as selecting where to develop communities and roads that will have the least environmental impact, business marketing and evaluating a potential business market, cartography, management of natural resources, natural resource mapping, archaeology research analysis, and tracking and analyzing natural disasters with the intent of improving emergency response time. As well, GIS technology can be used as an educational tool for technology schools and universities for such studies as geography, science, and mathematics. Even high school students can make use of GIS in their curriculum.

Mapping where places and objects are located will help people find places that have the attributes they are searching for, and if there are problems, they can then identify what needs to be done and put together an efficient and effective problem solving strategy. As well, they are able to see important patterns emerging. The objective of GIS is to identify new trends from the analysed research. Studying data using the Geographic Information System will help one learn and understand information much quicker and easier.

Geospatial Solutions Innovation

The explosion of consumer demand for geospatial solutions and tools such as geographic Information systems (GIS) to manipulate and graphically display such information have brought GIS into the daily lives of millions across the globe, whether they know it or not!

Geospatial technology is the science encompasses a broad range of disciplines that can be brought together to create a detailed but understandable picture of the physical world and our place in it. These disciplines include:-Geographic information systems (GIS)

-Global positioning system (GPS)

-Data modelling, management, and analysis

Having innovative geospatial solutions technology software, entities can drastically increase productivity, saving valuable time, and lowering research costs. The key to success is maximizing the efficiency of your mapping and geospatial data information throughout every stage of your project, from idea to completion. Powerful infrastructure specific software streamlines land development projects; creates, maintains, and analyzes maps and geographic datas.

Geospatial technologies and computer systems such as geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) are capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information attached to a location, such as latitude and longitude, or street location. Geographically referenced information is also known as geospatial information. Types of geospatial information include features like highway intersections, office buildings, rivers, the path of a tornado, the Sydney opera house, etc.

The power of GIS and GPS is the ability to combine geospatial information in unique ways by layers or themes and extract something new. For instance, the analysis might include the location and direction of a highway intersection and the average number of vehicles that flow through the intersection

throughout the day, and extract information useful for locating a business. GIS might include both the location of a river and the water depth along its course by season, and enable to analyze the effects of development on runoff within the watershed.

The Bottom line is that geospatial solutions data helps increase productivity and save time and money by combating high levels of redundancy, inaccuracies, data mismatches, currency issues, and versioning problems that result from siloed information that is not shared throughout the organization or accessed by all applications that can Utilize geospatial information. Organizations that have successful geospatial solutions in place can fully harness the power of their data by bridging the gap between engineering and GIS departments and the rest of the organization.

From planning through design, construction, and maintenance, having the correct geospatial solutions in place will deliver the most powerful data interoperability and a fully integrated platform for management of an entities spatial data assets.