The digital platform Werkwijzer is enriched with water supply data from Connected Green.
This spring, the full integration of the sensors and associated application of Connected Green and the Werkwijzer platform will take place at three launching customers. The goal of this collaboration is to create an improved workflow management for their customers. The integration is made possible through a recently developed coupling module that enables data exchange between the systems. What does all of this exactly entail?
Author: Jeroen Poldermans
“You can say: I drove to a tree and I watered it, or you can say: I drove to a tree and I watered it because the sensor indicated that it was necessary. That is a completely different justification for the deployment of people and resources for your client,” said René Voogt from Connected Green. This simple example perfectly illustrates the essence of the integration of both systems. Real-time information about input from the field that generates tasks to feed the workflow. The best of both worlds!
“I drove to a tree and I gave water because the sensor indicated that it was necessary.”
The establishment of the collaboration Connected Green and Werkwijzer have a mutual customer: Snoek Puur Groen. They asked if the data from the water supply sensors could be integrated into Werkwijzer. This question reached Pieter Verloop from Werkwijzer. Verloop said, “We took this question seriously because our platform is precisely intended to unlock data and thus better manage work processes. I then contacted René (Voogt), and from there things started rolling. During our explorations, the idea arose to expand and future-proof the Snoek Puur Groen project. That was the basis for the integration of both systems.” To combine the data and optimize the workflow, a coupling module had to be built to merge the data from the systems. After its release, Werkwijzer became the first platform with a connection to Connected Green.
Connected Green moisture sensors
Connected Green was founded in 2017 by René Voogt with the mission of making the world greener through smart technology. The moisture regulation system of Connected Green consists of smart sensors, a cloud environment, and an app for both clients and contractors. The sensors measure the soil moisture level. The sensor data is sent to a platform, which includes a logbook and a dashboard that functions as a traffic light system. The distinguishing feature of Connected Green lies in the stored data about the 2,400 most common plants and trees in urban green spaces, as well as information about various standardized soil types. Soil types that are not in the database are further examined in a laboratory and added afterward. One of the clients using this system is the municipality of The Hague. After four months of working with sensors, it resulted in savings of approximately 1.2 million liters of water, as well as fuel and manpower.
Strengthening each other’s strengths
The integration is particularly interesting for large landscaping companies, green space providers, and municipalities. With the collaboration and integration of both systems, the partners respond to the demand for more data-driven workflows. Verloop said, “The integration is a classic case of synergy. A clear strengthening of our systems. Generating tasks based on sensor data is definitely an added value that we can offer to our clients.”
Voogt: “The domain knowledge that we incorporate into Connected Green is highly relevant for people in the field. Our app provides an overview of a specific field situation, and based on that, you can take action. Werkwijzer offers the possibility to display the interpreted data (whether trees and plants need water or not) and the resulting tasks (e.g., watering) on a map, enriching that information with, for example, a logbook (who provided water, when, and how much). Acting on an alert already happens in our app, but the management processes are not as intelligently defined as in Werkwijzer. They are specialists in work processes, and we specialize in sensors. In that respect, little will change. Everyone does what they’re good at. In other words, ‘stick to your own trade!'”
Examining the Benefits
The major advantages of working with Connected Green’s sensors and app include significant savings in terms of water usage, labor costs, project visits, and replacement planting. For instance, using moisture sensors in the municipality of Veldhoven resulted in savings of €20,000 in water, labor, and material costs over a period of three months. The key benefits of using Werkwijzer are real-time insight and control over the work activities, increased efficiency, the ability to build a historical record through log files, and generating tasks based on field input. Integrating both systems creates a perfect link between outdoor and indoor management. Imagine sending an invoice as a landscape provider for providing water. Such an invoice becomes more transparent when the watering actions are based on tasks generated and supported by the sensors. This way, the financial accountability leads to fewer disputes. By understanding the water requirements, you can optimize the allocation of personnel and resources.
The accumulated historical data supports the calculations made and any subsequent invoicing. For the workers, the major advantage is having an interactive work chart and being able to see their location based on GPS. Their activities and reports are immediately visible on the GIS map. Transparency, effectiveness, and focus improve both indoor and outdoor tasks, leading to better plant growth—let’s not forget that this is the ultimate goal.
Integration of systems in practice
What will users inside and outside now notice about this integration? The Werkwijzer platform consists of modules called building blocks. Connected Green will become an optional building block of Werkwijzer that can be activated by clients. When that’s the case, users inside, such as managers and planners, will be able to use the Connected Green dashboard, which functions like a traffic light system. If the background is red, the system indicates a water shortage. If it’s orange, a specific project requires attention, and if it’s green, the water level is adequate.
Field employees will notice little difference due to the software merger. They will report the task of “watering” in the system and see the real-time effects on their GIS map. Therefore, user-friendliness will not be compromised.
Digital map platform of Werkwijzer
Werkwijzer is a relatively young and ambitious company specializing in digital work process management. The eponymous digital platform is based on GIS, a geographic information system. The platform provides all necessary information for both clients and contractors. The Werkwijzer application is primarily developed for executing parties, focusing on work execution and providing the correct field information for clients and management.
At the time this edition of Stad + Groen is delivered, efforts are underway to roll out the integration. Voogt states, “Different people will likely work with different apps. For example, setting the soil types and monitoring the trees will be done in the Connected Green app. The tasks resulting from these actions will be monitored in Werkwijzer. In the future, certain tasks will also be combined, such as watering and emptying trash cans when you’re already at that location.” Verloop is ambitious about future plans, saying, “Currently, thanks to the integration, we use moisture sensors, but I don’t rule out the integration of data from other sensors (light/temperature) from Connected Green in the future. This way, we both become more complete data partners for our clients.”
“Scheduling personnel is important when the drought and chaos strike again.”
Kicking off in Emmen
Being one with nature is what Snoek Puur Groen stands for. This large landscaping company from Grou (with a branch in Emmen) aims to let garden and outdoor space owners fully enjoy the scents, colors, and sounds that nature offers. Owner Douwe Snoek is always on the lookout for innovations in green maintenance and has a preference for sustainable, preferably circular products. In line with their sustainability goals, Snoek uses Connected Green’s sensors to provide water only when necessary. They use Werkwijzer to monitor and control work processes. Snoek Puur Groen wanted to integrate Connected Green’s data into Werkwijzer. Simone Arends, a tree and climate-adaptive advisor, explains, “Thanks to Werkwijzer, our clients can follow the execution of work processes, which increases transparency. For example, they can review the maintenance history. This is ideal for a large client like the municipality of Emmen, with more than twenty locations, as it helps maintain an overview. We have already installed Connected Green sensors for various clients. For our work for the municipality of Emmen, we will fully utilize the integration of the sensors and Connected Green’s app in Werkwijzer. The interface is user-friendly. The sensors color an area red, orange, or green; it’s that simple. It makes our work clear and easier. For instance, we can also see where we don’t need to go (green), which is important for us when scheduling personnel during the chaos of drought.”
Implementation in Weert
Attender Groen is a company with a diversity of talents and, as a regionally involved green company, is part of the Vebego Groenbedrijven in the Netherlands. They operate with over 300 colleagues from three locations: Meerssen, Hoensbroek, and Nederweert. Their clients include municipalities, housing corporations, healthcare institutions, and businesses. Attender Groen is implementing the integration of Connected Green into Werkwijzer for the municipality of Weert.
Regional Manager Tim Schreurs from Attender Groen says, “We find it important to be able to monitor our complete assignment in one system. The integration of multiple different parties in Werkwijzer makes this possible. Having different systems means having to monitor multiple software applications. Through integration, this monitoring is simplified, and we have all the data for analysis in one place. We expect to achieve significant water savings in the municipality of Weert through the addition of Connected Green sensors. By also focusing more on the values generated by the sensors, we can use our equipment more effectively. Ultimately, reducing water usage and using equipment more efficiently will also lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.”