A lot of, if not most, environmental consulting firms like to publicly tout themselves as “innovative” and as “embracing of technology”. Yet when it comes to their digital strategy, most often its nothing more than completing fillable PDFs and using Excel on laptops in the field.
And so is usually the case for stormwater forms….specifically, stormwater control measures (SCMs) operation and maintenance inspections rquired by city and county government entities.
Today’s standard practice for completing SCM maintenance inspection forms is to type text on top of static PDF templates provided by the City or County
Many would argue that the infrequency of these inspections (quarterly, semi-annually, or annual) is such that digitizing them is not worth the effort. I agree that this might be true if 1) creating the form templates is difficult and painful and 2) if these SCM inspections are a very small part of your operation. However, if building these form templates is simple, why not digitize them? There are some benefits:
- Centralized location for all your SCM form data (instead of individual files scattered around in a cloud drive somewhere)
- The data is digital and actionable…for example, you could filter for non-compliant items, view trends, etc (not possible from individual static files)
- Your own client could have real-time access to the data
- Consistent PDFs can be generated, integrated into other systems, and emailed to specific stakeholders, all automatically
You can build these forms in XForms in an afternoon…
Here’s how Mid-Atlantic Associates did it in XForms:
- Created a separate “application” in XForms, to segregate less-frequently used stormwater forms from their traditional environmental forms
- Built an input form for wet pond maintenance inspections
- Built an output (PDF) form that matched the Town of Cary’s Wet Pond Checklist for Annual SCM Report
Here’s a short video clip of their wet pond form in action on an iPhone.
And here’s the resulting output. Note that you can separate out forms into their own “application” and also aggregate data into key performance indicators.
Why not give it a look?
The world is moving to digital on a faster and faster clip. Your own clients are starting to expect this sort of thing. With that in mind, why not give it a try? I promise you that it’s better than filling out fillable PDFs.