Field worker wearables: hazard warning alert map on a watch to locate the invisible

02-04-2021 07:07 PM
Status: Open
New Contributor II

I recently discovered that there's such a thing as golf course map watches...and I instantly thought...we could use that technology to alert field staff when they're approaching a hazard or feature we want them to avoid.

In the forest where I work there are lots of things apart from trees!   Some of them are a risk to staff (eg underground gas pipes that are invisible on the surface and their markers are under vegetation or not be nearby).  Other things need protecting but might not be visible to the member of staff (eg rare plants that need an expert to spot them or die back in winter).   

So when I saw that there's a watch that can display a map and state how far it is to the front of a bunker and how far across, I imagined it could be depicting a protected heritage feature.  And that approaching it would trigger a beep (different programmable tones for different feature types) to prompt the wearer to look at the watch (far easier to do when physically working outdoors than getting out a phone) and their job instruction would just need to say "don't dig any holes inside the olive green" or "plant all the trees inside the brown" or "leave all the materials at the flag" and suchlike. 


I don't suppose you work with Garmin if they have their own mapping capabilities, but to me their products seemed affordable as a work tool, robust without being bulky and not full of unnecessary functionality.  So all the weight and computing power is plugged into accuracy of location.  But their business model seems to be to sell the watch pre-loaded with data - I asked them if there was a way of adding our own spatial data and they said "no".  I guess they have some deal with the golf companies.  So thought I'd mention it in case you thought it would be worth approaching them.  It must be physically possible for them to fit a microUSB slot.  And they can upload info to handheld GPSs so they must have the software capability.  Anyhow, if you were willing to work with them on standalone watches as a platform for accessing mobile GIS I reckon forestry isn't the only sector that could think of applications for a system that is easy to wear and carry on with work, but is really quick to interact with - seeing at a glance a map and clicking buttons to access basic info.  And capture tracks for recording/measuring/monitoring.   And what do leisure users like skiers use?  Maybe everyone else in the world has apple watches!  Tractors and machinery have precision location technology but it's prohibitively expensive for us (maybe not anyone else!).

I'm submitting this under the tracker section because I searched online for an ESRI mapping product that would work in watches and found a page on tracking on an apple watch .  So please redirect me if I've ended up in the wrong space.


1 Comment

great idea!