Trees & Utilities Conference 2017

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WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT

The collaboration between the Utility Arborist Association and Arbor Day Foundation to bring back the Trees and Utilities conference in Kansas City was a really big hit. With a 400+ final attendee count, this was clearly a conference that needed to make a comeback. I found the conference both helpful and educational for attendees from utility employees and environmental groups to vegetation management software providers like us at GSI.

At these large conferences, I really enjoy attending the customer hosted sessions. Learning first-hand how a utility has overcome obstacles, taking a peek into their daily workflow, and understanding what environmental factors are important in their regions was helpful for me to understand their daily priorities. Hearing scenarios of how workflows are configured and customized helped me think about how our vegetation management software can better support utilities’ needs as well. One thing was clear from presentations I attended – finding ways to make the entire vegetation management process more efficient is a common goal. Not only recording planning and trimming data, but also generating high quality reports, removing obstacles from crews’ day to day work, and digitizing maps are all key roles to bring down costs and become more efficient.

However, from listening in on experiences from a few utilities currently using a digital solution, I couldn’t help myself in noticing ways to make their processes even more efficient. We heard of workflows where data collected is still passed from contractors to the utility via FTP sites or emails. Of course there will be growing pains and learning curves to accept a fully digitized solution, but I am hopeful that this topic will continue to be a discussion among forestry groups. (Tip: Adding time reporting functionality and integrations to systems already in place such as a GIS or CIS can be a huge time saver!)

This year was fantastic to meet with current customers and those on the hunt for ways to improve their forestry maintenance processes. We’re really looking forward to attending next year in Omaha!

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