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Fulcrum’s new frontier: bringing lines and polygons to life

By Jim Grady, CEO
October 11, 2023

I’m excited to share some big news with you today. We’ve brought lines and polygons to Fulcrum, a move that’s been high on our clients’ wish list for quite some time. This isn’t just a new feature; it’s a big step forward in making GIS-oriented data collection and field operations more straightforward and effective, a goal I had in mind when I joined Fulcrum four years ago. And believe me, we’re just warming up.

Before the integration of lines and polygons in Fulcrum, teams had to rely on separate platforms to create and modify lines and polygons, which not only fragmented the workflow but also increased the likelihood of data inconsistencies and errors. The inability to directly access, create, and share these crucial data elements from the app hindered real-time collaboration. In addition, the lack of a unified platform for handling these tasks also meant higher costs and time expenditures, as teams had to juggle multiple tools to accomplish what should have been straightforward tasks.

Fulcrum first in lines and polygons

Fulcrum stands unique among data collection platforms by delivering in-app lines and polygons, alleviating these pain points by offering a seamless, integrated solution that promises to revolutionize the way field teams approach data collection and management. This addition means that field teams can now access, create, change, and share lines and polygons directly from the app, without the need to delve into the complexities of a full-fledged GIS. It’s a development that streamlines operations, making it easier for both field teams and their leaders to visualize spatial data in a whole new light.

One client, GeoForce Utility Technologies, is excited about the new feature and how it will improve its field operations.There are times when we’re doing tracking for another company, for example, that is doing tree trimming along a route. We end up drawing a box around areas that needed to be done, using a workaround on the older system,” says Brian Stroud, GeoForce Vice President and GIS Developer. “There’s a definite value in not having to go out of Fulcrum to do this type of annotation.

Let’s dive deeper into why lines and polygons are such game-changers.

Lines in action

Lines help us define straight or curved paths to organize data related to the various geographical or manmade features those paths represent.

As a use case for this feature, let’s explore its application in water utility management. Lines can be utilized to meticulously map out the extensive network of water pipelines that crisscross urban and rural landscapes. This detailed mapping allows for precise monitoring of the pipeline’s condition, helping to identify areas that are aging or in need of repair. It can facilitate proactive maintenance, where teams can pinpoint exact sections of the pipeline that require attention, preventing larger disruptions and ensuring a consistent water supply.

Furthermore, during emergency situations such as water main breaks, the use of lines can be a game-changer. Teams can quickly identify the affected sections of the pipeline, enabling a faster response to isolate the issue and prevent widespread water outages. This kind of rapid response is vital in minimizing the impact on communities and reducing the time and resources required to restore normal services.

The power of polygons

GIS polygons are closed shapes used to represent areas that have well-defined boundaries. These boundaries can either be defined by natural formations such as rivers or drainage fields, or man-made structures like city blocks, neighborhoods, zoning districts, and so on. A polygon is formed by connecting a series of lines in a closed loop, creating a shape that can encompass a particular feature or area.

For an example of a great use case for this feature, let’s take a look at the electric utilities sector, more particularly in vegetation management and emergency services.

In vegetation management, polygons can be used to clearly mark areas where vegetation growth poses a risk to power lines. Teams can identify and monitor these areas closely, planning timely interventions to trim overgrown trees or remove vegetation that threatens to disrupt power supply. This proactive approach can prevent costly outages and enhance the safety of the surrounding communities.

Furthermore, during emergency situations such as storms or power outages, polygons can play a critical role in restoring power swiftly. Emergency teams can use polygons to mark out affected areas, helping to prioritize and allocate resources more efficiently. For example, in the event of a storm, polygons can be used to highlight regions with the most significant damage, allowing teams to quickly focus their efforts where the need is greatest, and coordinate with other services to restore power in a timely manner. This targeted approach not only speeds up the restoration process but also facilitates better communication and coordination among different teams and agencies, ensuring a more reliable and resilient electric utility network.

Celebrating a Fulcrum milestone

Four years ago, when I stepped into the role of CEO at Fulcrum, I carried with me a vision of transforming the landscape of data collection with a GIS-first approach. It was a perspective that saw the immense potential in harnessing the power of GIS to create intuitive and powerful data collection tools that could revolutionize various industries. This vision has been the guiding force in our journey, steering Fulcrum’s evolution over the past years.

Today, we stand at a significant juncture where that vision is beginning to materialize. It has been a journey marked by relentless hard work, groundbreaking innovation, and fruitful partnerships, notably with Esri and other platforms. Our path has been enriched by the invaluable feedback and contributions from our customers, who have been our strongest allies in this endeavor.

While we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished with lines and polygons, this is not the end goal. Instead, it marks a significant step forward in creating a more intuitive and comprehensive data collection experience. While we’re celebrating this achievement, we remain focused on the future, ready to continue to evolve to better serve our clients with a GIS-centric data collection platform that is second to none in terms of functionality, user-friendliness, and innovation.

So, stay tuned for what comes next. We are just getting started, and the road ahead is brimming with opportunities that promise to redefine the boundaries of what we can achieve together. You’re not going to want to miss what we have in store.

Ready to explore the future of GIS-first data collection?

We invite you to experience firsthand the transformative potential of our newly integrated lines and polygons feature. If you’re as excited about this development as we are, we’d love to hear from you. Whether you’re interested in setting up a demo to see these features in action or just want to chat about how Fulcrum can help with your company’s data collection and GIS challenges, we’re here for you. Sign up for a free, no-obligation call with our experts to get started today!
And, in the meantime, here a couple of resources to learn more about Fulcrum’s GIS-first approach to data collection:

Getting More Out of Esri with Fulcrum data sheet

GIS with Fulcrum