Sustainably maintain and protect trees using GIS

TyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG and its predecessor companies have been active in their core location of Duisburg for more than 120 years. Together with its subsidiaries, the company supplies a wide range of steel processing sectors. The individual locations, therefore, set benchmarks in terms of environmental impact, but not just in Germany. The company is active in the sustainable preservation of the environment. In this context and due to statutory requirements, two years ago the task was formulated to complete the entire tree population of Duisburg in the company's GIS using a field comparison process and other valuable data for preservation and care.

The goal is to achieve and maintain a homogeneous and scenically presentable tree landscape in an area of 800 hectares (2,000 acres) at the company campus This project will also make it possible to document replacement plantings. A prescribed tree injury assessment and appropriate tree care is planned to be reviewed yearly. In addition, the devastating storms of 2014 made it evident that the security of the trees at the campus is vitally important. The data will be used as a tender basis for these measures and will include the an updated version of all the green spaces on the premises. Exact figures pertaining to paved areas and green areas will be made available to the appropriate departments for the determination of drainage charges and for awarding contracts for green care measures. All supports for large industrial pipe systems located on the factory premises including pipeline routes and appropriate support numbers are recorded for the company's GIS.

The right equipment saves time
To perform this task economically and to complete it in a reasonable period of time, it was decided to work with the graphic field book FX Collector made by Frox IT Factory before the start of the project. The hardware platform consists of a Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 attached with a Leica Zeno GG03 GNSS SmartAntenna and a Leica CS25 GNSS plus with helix antenna.

The objects to be recorded were identified with the highly accurate Leica Zeno GNSS SmartAntenna and composed using the numerous FX Collector available drawing functions. In addition, mixed methods were used; the rapid interaction of the FX Collector was used in combination with the Leica Zeno GNSS SmartAntenna. This method quickly provides position data auxiliary points, which are then used to construct hard-to-reach objects on the tablet.

All background data (aerial photographs, Web Map Service, CAD data) were stored in geo-referenced format in the FX collector. Examining surfaces and existing trees, measurement of the pipe supports as well as the orientation of the location were thus greatly simplified. It was thus possible to create the extensive dataset quickly and in high quality.

“ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG is totally satisfied with the combination of the FX Collector, Leica CS25 GNSS plus and Leica Zeno GG03 SmartAntenna,” said Klaudius Drass, Dipl.-Ing Geography at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG, and the person responsible for the in-house GIS. “Efficiency was increased by about 30 percent compared to conventional field comparison method.”

High mobility and data storage in the cloud
It was advantageous to work with the graphic field book, especially in the densely wooded areas. It’s the most efficient method for allowing continuous on-the-spot visual checks to be made regarding the completeness of the data. The advantage of the system is the high degree of mobility and the fact that the system can be operated without cumbersome field sketches, additional maps or additional equipment.

In particular, the Leica CS25 GNSS plus in combination with the helix antenna offers reliability, ease of use, mobility, and delivers sub-decimetre accuracy. The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 with the Leica Zeno GG03 SmartAntenna on the pole was used in all other areas where higher accuracy was required.

The project was backed up on site to the cloud daily so preliminary results could be available immediately to office staff. FX Collector's Session feature was used in this context to allow the data to be exported on a daily basis without having to create a new project each day.

The results were provided in digital form. Trees and pipe supports were exported using FX Collector's table-driven interfaces so that they could be read directly into ThyssenKrupp's GIS system. The changed green spaces as well as the new green spaces were replaced or supplemented in GIS.

“The weatherproof CS25 GNSS plus is resistant to rain, wind and dirt. The computer and the antenna were easy to carry throughout the day,” said Drass. “The batteries lasted all day and were fully charged by morning due to the short charging period. The ‘fixed’ solution was achieved extremely ‘quick’ – there was hardly any waiting time.”

Reduction of office work to a minimum
A large portion of the planning preparation was conducted in the field, reducing post-processing in the office to a minimum due to the standardised high quality of recorded data. The office staff was able to import the data quickly and easily into the client's GIS. This further emphasises the efficiency of the entire process.

“The Leica CS25 GNSS plus offers a good platform for the FX Collector. The Leica Zeno GG03 SmartAntenna was connected with the two tablets via Bluetooth. Measuring was done quickly and easily, and a fixed position was returned within a short period,” said Drass. “Shaded areas were processed quickly using measured auxiliary points via GNSS and the numerous design features.”

Written by Johannes Grösbrink

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