Smart moisture sensors will optimize data-driven fleet management.
Curious Inc. is a company specializing in the mobility and logistics market with data and telematics solutions. They develop software to support sustainable and efficient fleet management. On December 8th, they entered into a collaboration with ConnectedGreen, a specialist in sensor technology. The goal of the partnership is to perfect data-driven work processes, such as municipal green and gray maintenance, to achieve ultimate transparency and efficiency.
Author: Jeroen Poldermans
“You don’t want green and gray to each have their own sensors, applications, and workflow support. What we want is to have one integrated environment for route optimization, and green and gray management to be part of that.” Those “we” are René Voogt (founder/owner of ConnectedGreen) and Hans Schaap (founder/owner of Curious Inc.). Data-driven work is the future, so this collaboration may be the turnkey solution that municipalities and green companies have been looking for. What does this sustainable partnership entail?
“Green maintenance is not an isolated work process for a municipality.”
More than just a collaboration
The agreement is more than just a collaboration. It means the full integration of both systems to optimize data-driven workflow support. On one hand, Curious Inc.’s asset management software is enhanced with the data, domain knowledge, and customer knowledge of ConnectedGreen. On the other hand, users of the ConnectedGreen platform are connected to efficient asset and fleet management applications. It’s an ideal match because organizations that work with the ConnectedGreen platform generally manage a fleet, and Curious Inc. develops applications for more efficient vehicle usage and route optimization. The best of both worlds.
“Green maintenance is not an isolated work process for a municipality but is usually combined with other tasks, such as emptying trash cans. Curious Inc. has already developed an application for gray maintenance, which is being used in several cities. The integration with sensor technology that drives green maintenance is a logical and possibly crucial expansion of both portfolios. The collaboration is not only sustainable but also serves a common sustainable goal, as the enhanced expertise results in significant fuel savings.
Enschede municipality as a pilot
Curious Inc. comprises three business initiatives with their respective applications. One of them is Grybb, which takes care of gray management planning for the Enschede municipality down to the last detail. “Do you also happen to manage trees alongside the gray assets?” With this question from the Enschede municipality in mind, Schaap sought a company dealing with green matters. “That’s how I got in touch with René Voogt, and the first collaboration started as a pilot project in Enschede,” says Schaap. Enschede had already purchased sensors from ConnectedGreen, and Schaap and his team facilitated their implementation and integration with the asset management software. “This pilot was a great success, and we’re now planning expansions. That’s when we started thinking about a follow-up, which has now been officially sealed with a contract,” adds Voogt.
The importance of sensor technology
The moisture sensors measure the moisture levels at root level and provide information on whether young trees and/or plants need water. This information is collected in the ConnectedGreen platform and serves as the basis for:
- More efficient routing, resulting in savings on fuel, water, personnel, and equipment.
- Transparency in work processes. Invoicing becomes more transparent thanks to the data input.
- Reduction in losses of green assets.
- Accountability for municipal tax funds to the citizens.
We had a wet summer in 2021. Were the moisture sensors still useful?
“That is a logical question, and the answer is: yes! Even in wet conditions, the moisture sensors are valuable. Our intuition tells us that watering is unnecessary, and the sensors confirm that, resulting in savings. Especially this year, with all the rainfall, a significant amount of money was saved due to the consistent information. For a municipality, it is important to remove any uncertainties regarding the necessity of irrigation. With a shortage of personnel, you don’t want people to spend time checking whether a tree actually needs water or to provide water when it’s not necessary,” explains Voogt. Schaap adds, “A colleague mentioned that he was able to reduce tree losses with the sensors. Tree losses incur significant costs due to the failure of the tree to establish, as well as the expenses associated with the history of such a tree. These costs have increased considerably in recent years due to the growing volume, labor costs, and logistics involved in tree management.
Curious Inc.: From Student Startup to Niche Market Leader
During his technical studies, Hans Schaap focused on sensor technology to measure a wide range of variables, from air temperature to humidity. It was during this period that he developed an interest in the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT consists of physical objects, such as cars, household appliances, and wearables, that are connected to the internet and can transmit data online. After completing his studies, he founded his startup company, GreenStar Logistics, which applied IoT in the field of mobility and logistics. This led to the idea of developing data-driven workflow solutions for the mobility market. One of these sustainable mobility concepts was the Driving Behavior Coach. The first application created by GreenStar Logistics was called Dation, focusing on driving schools. As a result, they became the market leader in this niche in the Netherlands and Belgium. Their second successful application is YesHugo, which provides support for thousands of vehicles through trip registration, track-and-trace, and vehicle movements. The third application is the previously mentioned asset management application, Grybb. Eventually, GreenStar Logistics grew into Curious Inc.
“Sustainability has been the core idea behind all our applications from the beginning.”
Sustainability as the Core Idea
“Sustainability has been the core idea behind all our applications from the beginning,” Schaap continues. “The Driving Behavior Coach module, for example, was specifically designed to save fuel. Another example is the Mobility Battle we organized in collaboration with the Province of Overijssel under the YesHugo banner. Companies and organizations from Overijssel received a year of driving behavior coaching and then competed against each other. Participants had to save as much fuel as possible and avoid rush hour traffic. They could earn points by accelerating and braking less forcefully, traveling outside peak hours, or not using their cars at all. I can provide more examples, but the important point is that our philosophy of sustainability and our expertise in telematics and mobility align seamlessly with the vision and core business of our partner, ConnectedGreen. I believe that we are currently the only ones who can offer the entire spectrum of data-driven workflow solutions for both gray and green management.”
In The Hague, some routes of green companies have been shortened by 25% thanks to the data from the sensors.
The success story of smart sensors
ConnectedGreen was founded in 2017 by René Voogt with a mission to make the world greener through smart technology. In 2018, he showcased his moisture sensors for the first time at the Public Space Trade Fair. Since then, both working with sensors and data-driven work have taken off. The ConnectedGreen platform consists of smart moisture sensors, a cloud environment, and an app for both clients and contractors. The sensors measure the soil moisture level. The sensor data is collected in a digital platform equipped with a logbook and a dashboard using a traffic light system symbolism. The differentiating power of ConnectedGreen lies in the stored data about the 2400 most common plants and trees in urban green spaces, as well as information about various standardized soil types. Soil types not present in the database are further examined in a laboratory and added. One of the clients using this system is the municipality of The Hague, where working with sensors resulted in savings of approximately 1.2 million liters of water, fuel, and man-hours after four months.
Common area of expertise
Data-driven work is gaining momentum because clients want maximum transparency and efficiency in their workflows. “I believe that the integration of our systems is important because we want to apply data-driven work not only to green management,” says Voogt. “Next to a tree, there might be a trash can. Curious Inc. offers propositions for municipal services like ’emptying trash cans.’ They, like us, work with sensors that drive data-driven work processes, and our domain knowledge of urban green spaces is essential to them. Both of us are involved in smart city applications, and our areas of expertise have a significant overlap. Over 120 organizations are now using the ConnectedGreen platform, and this collaboration is a logical next step to offer data-driven work on a broader scale.”
“The collaboration is a logical next step to offer data-driven work on a broader scale.”
The signatures have been signed, and as a result, Curious Inc. acquires the brand, software, and staff of ConnectedGreen, while ConnectedGreen will continue to exist as a brand. René Voogt will remain involved until Curious Inc. has everything running smoothly. For the relationships of both ConnectedGreen and Curious Inc., nothing will change except for the fact that they will have more possibilities. “With the expansion of our portfolio, we aim to better support municipalities that want to set a good example in sustainable solutions. Therefore, I invite the readers of Stad + Groen to exchange thoughts and ideas with us,” concludes Schaap.