We Do One Map Thing Super Well
We let you locate the tree quickly, easily and accurately. Yes, you can click on the GPS button and have the current coordinates fill into the latitude and longitude fields. But that’s only as accurate as your GPS chip, which tends to be 10-20 feet off, and sometimes much worse. To address this, we developed the TouchMap feature. When in the field, a UFM user will see a local map and can touch where the tree is located, observing its precise position relative to everything else on the map. Our clients typically see accuracy within a yard of the center of the tree.
Once that accurate data has been collected, trees can be shown on maps, along with their various attributes. When producing maps for clients, UFM users usually export the mapping data into a special application, such as Google Earth, which will put a photo of the land beneath the trees. Or a road map. Or an image that you have you wish to throw beneath, such as a client’s survey or a municipal zoning map.
The data can also be thrown onto a web map, allowing clients to see their trees and click on them to see tree attributes. Those maps can even be made public or semi-public so that campuses, towns and homeowners associations can provide the links to their constituents.
Importantly, the UFM system allows arborists and other tree professionals to be able to indicate that they are GIS compatible and web compatible, key requirements for more and more tree inventory projects.
Best Accuracy for Cost
You can buy $10,000 mapping hardware and software and get much less accurate results. You can also spend a little more and get slightly better accuracy, down to the sub-meter category. But when you factor in either time or money, nothing comes close to how quick and cheap it is to just point your finger at where the tree should be, and then be able to marry that geolocation data with all the other notations you’ve made on all of your trees to produce intelligent, customized maps.
Want to Get a Better Handle on Maps?
Mapping has traditionally been very complex, expensive and time consuming for arborists and other tree pros, but that is changing quickly. During this time of change, the combination of various client needs, existing data sets, their preferred software and various competing standards caused much confusion. The good news is that this is being vanquished via new software features and open mapping standards. Other good news: we’ve put together a graphics-rich paper that explains how all of these things worked, and how they’re now working together. You can download here that Mapping for Tree Professionals.
For current users of UFM, we also put together a guide to perform one of the tricks that previously only people using expensive and complex mapping software could perform: inserting a specialized base map under your tree locations. This is often used in construction projects or with municipal permitting processes. You can find that guide here.
We Use Open Formats
When you use UFM, you don’t need to worry about compatibility with your clients’ various systems. You don’t need to worry about needing to purchase another few thousands of dollars worth of software licenses each year. It just works, largely because we export our mapping data into industry standard, open formats.
For those who have used GIS systems before (which provide very powerful mapping features, but often require days of training just to do basic things) you can breath easy. You can do all of the same basic functions – such as showing trees on top of a base map, along with crown radius and other information – but in any modern mapping application of your preference, some of which are free and easy to use without special training. A majority of UFM clients are currently using Google Earth, which has proven to be both simple and very quick for people who are otherwise unfamiliar with mapping systems. If you love ArcGIS or other complex mapping systems, you can continue to use those.