Modernizing Your Approach to Vegetation Management

The safety and reliability of power line systems is essential to consumers and businesses alike, and in the era of climate change, vegetation management has never been more critical.  

When vegetation around the power grid is left unchecked, it can interfere with power line systems, with catastrophic results. In fact, vegetation grow-in and fall-in remain the most dominant causes of power outages today. Even more concerning is the devastating impact unmanaged vegetation can have when power line systems are impacted by extreme weather events, such as windstorms, which can bring lines down and send dangerous sparks into the surrounding terrain.  

While in 2021, the financial impact of Western states wildfires reached an alarming $10.9 billion, the human costs of wildfires fueled by downed lines are simply beyond measure. Consider, for example, California’s 2018 Camp Fire, caused by extreme heat and wind conditions that damaged power lines and ultimately ignited one of the worst wildfires in our nation’s history. The Camp Fire consumed a full 153,335 acres in just two weeks, took the lives of 85 people, and destroyed 30,000 homes. Moving at a pace of 80 football fields per minute at its peak, this out-of-control blaze ravaged the entire town of Paradise in four hours. 

To help mitigate the effects of wildfires and power outages, utility companies today are making vegetation management a top priority, seeking new tools and technologies to aid in the fight.  

Why Digitization Is the Answer

Inspections and forecasting of vegetation are key mitigators of vegetation management and drivers of operational priorities and budgets for utility transmission and distribution departments. To effectively reduce the risks of vegetation fall-in and grow-in around power supply systems, utility companies need deep ongoing visibility into exactly where vegetation growth is posing the greatest threats.  

To gain that level of visibility, utility companies conduct routine line inspections and gather vegetation data from a variety of different sources as well, such as aerial imagery and LiDAR, which is typically employed to capture data from above, using helicopters, airplanes, and drones. Because all this data is collected via disparate manual and digital processes in a range of different technological formats, structuring, synthesizing, and processing it presents challenges.  

The vast amount of data available to utility companies today also presents technological challenges – along with opportunities. For example, rapid deployment of new satellites is increasing the geographic data available to the industry exponentially, information that can be used to dynamically track the state of vegetation around the power grid. However, processing all this data in an efficient manner takes immense computing power, and utility companies are often restrained by existing legacy infrastructure that lacks the high-performance computing required to analyze such volumes of data. 

Utility companies also often suffer from an inability to convert raw data into the standardized formats required to leverage new advanced technologies available to them, such as AI and machine learning. Going forward, utilities must modernize their approach to vegetation management by advancing their infrastructure to keep pace with innovation, digitizing and standardizing the data they aggregate, and automating workflows to streamline their operations and meet the high vegetation management standards the industry has set. 

Selecting the Right Technology

As a first step, utility companies should invest in a single, enterprise-wide platform that serves as both a central repository for field data and point of integration across systems and applications. Having the right digitization platform in place will ensure universal data access by stakeholders and ultimately help streamline workforce deployment workflows. Integration across the environment will help eliminate workflow bottlenecks and enable support for innovative new technologies as they emerge. The most sophisticated solutions in the industry today are web-based, offer expansive support for mobile devices deployed in field operations, and are built to scale.  

The ideal digitization platform should also capture and standardize data from a breadth of resources, including drones, satellites, mobile devices, and manual documentation. Support for new, emerging industry AI and machine learning solutions is essential to have as well.  

Optimally, the platform should also automate business processes from end to end – including scheduling field personnel, tracking work in progress, assessing performance, managing assets, and identifying opportunities for improvement.  

Meeting the Challenge with EpochField

While there are many digitization solutions on the market today, few offer the functionality, flexibility, and scale needed to meet the vegetation management demands of the utility industry. 

A web-based, enterprise-wide solution, the EpochField workflow automation and management platform is tailored for utility companies and can be configured to an organization’s specific needs. EpochField comes with full-featured modules for field workflow creation and management, work order and workforce scheduling, and asset map data distribution to the field, and is built for seamless integration across the infrastructure, from field mobile devices to on-premise servers and cloud-based applications. As the use of emerging technologies becomes more widespread, EpochField will continue to adapt to these and other data collection sources to provide utilities with the critical data needed for ongoing decision making. 

As a foundation for network and asset workflows, EpochField offers features like offline viewing, high-performance maps, and configurable work order forms, allowing utility personnel to easily view their assets on a map-centric interface, wherever they are located – in the office or in the field. 

As a result, utility companies can meet the complex challenge of vegetation management head on, dramatically increasing system uptime while preserving lives, property, and the environment surrounding the power grid. 

Click here to schedule a demo today. 

Schedule a Free Workforce Management Assessment

A Checklist for Field Operation Digitization

Utilities and telecommunications companies have been under pressure to digitize in order to remain competitive and support the mobile workforce for many years. For too long, the norm for field operations has revolved around paper-based processes, physical maps, and duplicate data views. Of course, the pandemic has forced many companies to re-evaluate their technology landscape and re-examine the impact of technology-driven solutions on a remote workforce.  But the years following COVID-19 have proven that nearly anything can be streamlined and digitized with the proper technologies in place. 

The efficiency gains and cost savings to be had from digitization are too great to ignore. This is especially true for field operations. In order to overcome barriers – both internal and external – it’s critical that organizations have a comprehensive project plan that addresses the varied elements needed for successful digitization. Preparing for digital transition of field operations is a process and one that should have a set of measurable milestones and results from the outset. Executives also need to engage with their teams to understand the challenges fieldworkers face and work with them to find solutions that make sense for both sides.   

If you’re looking to transform your field operations into the next phase of digital execution, here’s a checklist your team can use to ensure the transition to digital management is smooth and results in more effective, efficient operations: 

  • Understand the business case for upgrading to digital tools. Lay out the short-and long-term goals and align digitization plans to them to ensure priority work is transformed first.
  • Assess your current state and identify areas of improvement. Conduct a thorough audit to identify the most pressing challenges that digitization will address and develop a roadmap to the ideal operational state.
  • Develop a plan to implement digitization in a way that makes sense for your organization. Form a task force for the transition and include team staff members who will be working directly within the digital systems; comprehensive involvement gets everyone engaged and focused on the same goals from the start.
  • Train and equip your field workers with the tools they need to be successful. Identifying early adopters to champion training, celebrating learning steps, and acknowledging change management wins will help keep teams motivated.
  • Monitor and optimize your digitization efforts over time. Schedule regular evaluations aligned to planning, implementation, and execution milestones to course-correct or leverage successes throughout the system.
  • Work with an implementation partner that can help you assess your organization’s needs and ensure the best roadmap with the least interruption. Make sure your partner offers configurable solutions that solve the unique challenges your teams face every day, from the back office to the frontline. Also, ensure you’re getting increased visibility and productivity in every part of the process.

Each of these steps is important in achieving success with digitization in field operations, but it’s also important to keep in mind that every organization is different and will have its own unique challenges and needs.  

You know it’s time to update your process, but where do you start? Learn more about how to get your operations ready – download our latest guide: Digitization in Mobile Workforce Management: Overcoming 5 Barriers in Field Operations now. 

Schedule a Free Workforce Management Assessment

Top 4 Considerations for Finding the Right Technology Partner for Utilities Companies

Utilities companies must improve their flexibility and resilience by enabling new technologies and solutions in an era defined by digital transformation. By embracing a new technology partner, organizations can drive new business models, move beyond traditional and conservative processes and operations, and enhance their workforce capabilities.

Utilities companies that embrace digital strategies and make bold commitments to digital transformation will drive industry-wide innovation. Exploring new technology partnerships helps businesses achieve their digital transformation goals. Choosing the right technology partner is key to a successful transformation and helps organizations:

  • Overcome industry-specific challenges and those unique to your individual business
  • Set up new operations and processes to run more efficiently
  • Easily integrate technologies with new and existing systems
  • Leverage a repeatable and lasting solution

Technology manages the complexities resulting from digital innovation so that businesses can continue to create solutions that positively impact people’s lives. Utilities companies must transition to digital technologies in order to be competitive, offer enhanced customer experiences, and survive and thrive in an age driven by technology.

1. What to Look for in the Right Technology Partner

Technology partnerships help organizations redefine and enable new business strategies. They seamlessly connect business and IT environments, so businesses can generate value through technology adoption and enable their workforce to focus on innovation. A technology partner should understand the inherent challenges of the utilities industry and how their solution can seamlessly fit into a company’s digital transformation strategy.

2. Understanding Unique Industry Challenges

Great technology partners understand unique utilities industry challenges, like environmental issues, economic competitiveness, and security. The right technology partner will help a business expand their IT capabilities, handling important technology updates and maintenance, so that existing IT and technology teams can focus on more crucial work and innovative projects, which can also help with employee retention.

Many energy companies have been around a long time, with legacy systems and processes that have been SOP for years. As they modernize their infrastructure and further enable data and analytics-based decision making, the need could arise to embrace new cloud capabilities like the ones offered by companies like Fortinet and firms alike. Transitioning to modern technology should be seamless and frictionless, and technology partners should offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions so that companies can:

  • Easily implement new technologies that are continuously updated over time
  • Facilitate a quick migration process compared to upgrading hardware
  • Scale architectures up or down as needed

Organizations like Epoch Solutions Group offer EpochField as a service that integrates with multiple back office IT systems, such as GIS and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). This enables them to deliver new services and help companies overcome the limitations of on-premise deployments.

3. The Need for Configurability and Customization

Technology partners must be able to configure their technology to integrate with an organization’s existing systems, processes, and workflows. New solutions should be set up seamlessly and shouldn’t require a talent overhaul to operate. These solutions should be repeatable and serve as a foundation for future growth and opportunity.

Technology partners should also help business and IT teams expand how they use technology in their everyday workflows. It’s about providing a solution that helps organizations reduce the complexities of work via enhanced workflow processes.

Organizations are preparing for the future by shifting to new digital business models so they can unlock significant value. This is not simply an engineering-specific transformation. Rather it requires a holistic change to the business and operating model across culture, supply chains, products, and more. Configurable solutions from technology partners take into consideration the unique needs of every organization so that teams across the business and IT can benefit and operate in their individual capacities.

4. System Integration

A lack of system integration can lead to short-term challenges and long-term operational inefficiencies. Creating a sustainable business foundation that will support future technology additions and integrations should be enabled by a technology partnership.

Digital transformation for organizations is a continuous pursuit driven by the impacts of artificial intelligence, data availability, and analytics. As organizations build their technology architecture to enable data-centric decisions, the insights need to be accessible across teams and business areas to maximize the value and effectiveness of these strategies.

System integration helps people use their data quickly and efficiently, solving data management challenges that typically impede growth and opportunity. Organizations will have clarity and visibility into their operations and data that helps them to drive new products, services, and solutions.

Choose Epoch Solutions Group as a Technology Partner

Epoch Solutions Group understands the critical capabilities necessary to make digital transformation successful. They include:

  • Overcoming industry-specific challenges and those unique to your individual business
  • Setting up new operations and processes to run more efficiently
  • Integrating technologies with new and existing systems
  • Leveraging a repeatable and lasting solution

Contact a consultant to learn how Epoch Solutions Group can help your organization achieve its digital transformation goals now and in the future. Click here to schedule a demo today.

How Digital Innovation Helps Utility Companies Quickly Get Things Back Up and Running After a Storm

One of the worst winter storms swept through Texas in recorded history during 2021, causing power outages to millions of people and businesses. According to McKinsey and Company, this catastrophic event led to Governor Abbot issuing a disaster declaration in 254 counties. 2020 and 2021 were two years that had the most named storms in history, with 30 and 27 named storms respectively.

From hurricanes, to devastating winter storms like those in Texas and increased weather activity throughout the country, the impacts of storms on energy infrastructures is far reaching. Managing these systems and monitoring and responding to a power crisis in real-time is highly complex. Utilities companies need to implement a flexible digital infrastructure to meet the many challenges they encounter when providing consistent and active services, and to be prepared to get services back up and running quickly in the case of a storm emergency.

Responding to New Energy Landscapes

The effects of climate change are significantly impacting the utilities industry. Frequent and severe weather conditions have pushed infrastructure capabilities to their limits, leading to power outages, lower efficiency, and higher costs.

Water, electric, and environmental regulatory environments are evolving. As a result, energy companies must reimagine maintenance and inspection goals and approach new solutions that give them greater control of their assets.

Implementing weather-resistant, mobile electrical structures like these modular e-houses that can accommodate almost any power structure could be one of the many solutions. The advantages provided by these e-houses, such as withstanding the elements while ensuring resistance to fire, explosions, and galvanic corrosion, seem to be in line with the requirements for outage prevention due to storms and other disasters. With that said, technological solutions can also come into the picture and help utilities provide immediate and timely services during emergencies.

Climate Change, Regulations, and Consumers

Amidst new climate and regulatory landscapes, utilities companies are faced with new consumer demands and behaviors that are changing alongside the digital world, like smart home environments and smartphone applications. Consumers are driven by personalized experiences that give them more control and data at their fingertips. Energy companies must deliver these experiences to keep pace with modern consumer needs for transparency and personalization.

Utilities companies should respond to climate change, regulatory environments, and consumer demands and generate value using new, innovative solutions that:

  • Optimize operations
  • Overcome the limitations of legacy systems
  • Improve the customer experience

A utility company needs the right digital capabilities and solutions that help them more efficiently manage their operations while equipping the workforce with new digital tools that improve workflow processes and collaboration. Energy companies need real-time access to the right data to assess changing environments and instantaneously react and respond accordingly.

Utilities and the Impacts of Digital Technology

When the Texas power crisis occurred, harsh weather conditions were devastating. In the event that power outages occur, power grids and power lines are damaged, utilities companies require the capabilities to respond and restore power quickly.

Energy companies need customizable solutions that put their customers first and equip their employees with new capabilities to deliver and enhance services in a modern digital world. They must reimagine how they approach numerous business functions like asset management, workforce deployment, field workforce management, and vegetation management.

Assessing damage and quickly deploying field service crews helps energy companies restore power rapidly to their customers. EpochField, a solution from Epoch Solutions Group, enhances data collection workflows with tools that enable strategic planning, field data collection, and real-time analysis. It integrates operates with existing systems including outage management (OMS), work management (WMS), geographic information (GIS), and customer relationship management (CRM).

Innovative digital solutions like these improve damage assessment back-office functions. Teams utilize dashboards to provide a better view of to view outages, crew locations and work locations on a spatial map with integrated GPS tracking. Systems receive notifications when outages occur, and field crews are quickly deployed.

Also, scheduling optimization tools help utilities companies efficiently assemble and deploy large groups of field crews more accurately and efficiently. Field crews also use their mobile devices for online or offline work orders, sending and receiving information from the back office, electronically syncing data with the back-office enterprise systems. Any system user can create work order forms, document inspections, streamline maintenance, and demonstrate compliance to regulators.

Organizations need to prepare for today and tomorrow. Digital solutions from Epoch Solutions Group enhance utilities companies’ agility, resilience, and flexibility. Epoch Solutions Group drives innovation and opportunity with a technology platform that helps organizations respond to digital transformation, enhance operational efficiency, and overcome the challenges resulting from climate change, regulatory environments, and shifting consumer behaviors.

Digitize Your Utilities Operations

Schedule a demo today and discover how Epoch Solutions Group can help your energy company prepare for storm outages, the impacts of climate change, new regulatory landscapes, and changing consumer behaviors.

EpochField 5.0.3 Release for Mobile, Work Scheduler, and Web API

The products team at Epoch Solutions Group has been busy working on a few new enhancements and updates to EpochField for iOS, Android, and Windows. EpochField 5.0.3 can be found in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft app store today.

We are introducing a number of new features and enhancements in the EpochField Mobile 5.0.3, EpochField Work Scheduler 5.0.3 and Web API Release. Read on for the summary release notes below.

EpochField Mobile

  • Lassoing multiple assets for a bulk update fixes
  • Fix for multiple ad hoc task types with the same geometry
  • Click Integration Tool enhancements and fixes
  • Backwards compatibility fix for a vital Click Adapter
  • Fix fo group layer visibility does not honor the individual layer configurations in the APRX

Known Issues:

Android – Due to a Xamarin Essentials bug reported with Android 11, users will need to set their Android device location permissions manually. To do so, go to the “App Location Permissions” section of your device’s “Settings” app and choose “Allow Always” or “Allow Only While Using App” for the EpochField app.

Copying Text does not work with APRX documents published to ArcGIS Server 10.7.1

EpochField Work Scheduler

  • Groups should be able to be configured so that they can see all groups/content or only their group/content.
  • Groups should only be able to Delete or Disable workers, crews, and equipment which they have created in Resource Management.
  • “Managed By” drop down list should only include Groups that have the setting “Only Show Managed Work in Gantt”.
  • Expected user visibility for the work order scheduling resource dropdown list is not honored.
  • When utilizing the EF Mobile calendar view, users shouldn’t be able to edit/delete work orders – only view them
  • Actual Start and Actual Finish Dates for completed WOs are not editable
  • Service Point not showing for the Stand by Calendar fix
  • Planned work orders not showing up in Gantt Chart if no work has yet been assigned to workers.
  • Initial Dates in Work Scheduler are not being populated or displayed fix

Known Issues:


EpochField Web API

  • Cannot find stored procedure error when using SQLServer fix

Known Issues:


EpochField 5.0.2 Release for Mobile, Administrator, and Work Scheduler

It’s officially Fall 2021 and the products team here at Epoch has been busy working on a few new enhancements and updates to EpochField for iOS, Android, and Windows. EpochField 5.0.2 can be found in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Apps store.

We are introducing a number of new features and enhancements in the EpochField Mobile 5.0.2, EpochField Administrator 5.0.2, and EpochField Work Scheduler 5.0.2 release. Read on for the summary release notes below.

EpochField Mobile

  • Lasso tool enhancements and fixes
  • Click Integration enhancements
  • MapMarkup text box fixes
  • Click Integration Tool multiple selection fixes
  • Multiple ad hoc task type with same geometry fixes

Known Issues

Android – Due to a Xamarin Essentials bug reported with Android 11, users will need to set their Android device location permissions manually. To do so, go to the “App Location Permissions” section of your device’s “Settings” app and choose “Allow Always” or “Allow Only While Using App” for the EpochField app.

Copying text does not work with APRX documents published to ArcGIS Server 10.7.1.

EpochField Work Scheduler

  • Manage Group Visibility enhancements
  • File attachment fixes
  • Zoom to asset fixes
  • Work order grid status enhancements

Known Issues


EpochField Administrator

  • Work order comments in Scheduler for mobile fixes

Known Issues


Increasing Readiness and Assessment Efficiency with a Sound Damage Assessment Solution

EpochField optimizes storm management, before and after a storm, by automating common damage assessment workflows.

Increasing Readiness and Assessment Efficiency with a Sound Damage Assessment Solution

Old Methods and Process

Historically, utilities have utilized manual methods and processes when approaching a damage assessment workflow. A common approach to a manual assessment typically goes as follows: the use of printed paper maps, assigning work tickets to a field worker, handwriting assessed damage data, and then manually updating back-office outage management systems (OMS) once the data has been delivered.

Increasing Readiness and Assessment Efficiency with a Sound Damage Assessment Solution

Open Loop Damage Assessment Process:

  1. Printing of maps.
  2. Assigning damage tickets and maps to field crew.
  3. Field crew collects and reports damage by hand, on printed maps.
  4. Driving back to the storm center with maps notating damage.
  5. Aggregating all the notations on each map to a) make sense of it, and b) determine a game plan for repair.
  6. Someone else manually entering the status of the damage ticket in the Outage Management System and creating a work ticket.
  7. Beginning the routing process for work tickets.

The open-loop damage assessment process is a lengthy process, inefficient, and prone to errors when compared to modern methods. Often, a damage assessment team can run into several problems such as difficulty interpreting handwritten notations, lack of accurate data collection, and the difficulties of printing and using paper maps.

Automating a Damage Assessment Workflow

Although automating damage assessment workflows is a process in itself, the long-term benefits are worth it. Even though a damage assessment workflow will change case by case, generally the automation approach starts with using mobile devices in the field to collect damage data, electronically synching that data with outage management systems, then planning a restoration plan based on that data.

“Utilities can increase restoration efficiency following a major storm by automating data collection, scheduling, and restoration planning with EpochField.

Where Does EpochField Fit In?

Damage Assessment starts in the back office with supervisors viewing outages on dashboards and crew locations on a spatial map in real-time with integrated GPS tracking. By using EpochField Administrator and EpochField Work Scheduler, a plan and assessment strategy is developed based on crew location and outage areas. Field crews utilizing EpochField Mobile on lightweight tablets receive work orders from the back office and note damage specifics on configurable forms. Progress is tracked in real-time with tools and dashboards, enabling utilities to prioritize restoration areas.

Sometimes, in areas such as with high hurricane or tornado activity, the damage is so severe field crews cannot determine where utility assets were located. With the tablet’s internal GPS and GIS information, field crews will know exactly what materials are needed to be replaced. EpochField will then build a list of materials required for restoration and sync that data to the OMS for warehouse personnel to load construction materials on trucks for the crews.

Utilities can quickly restore power using EpochField by taking advantage of timely damage assessment information. With EpochField, utilities can quickly gain a detailed picture of the damage, identify and prioritize damaged areas, and assist staff with a restoration plan based on accurate GIS data.

Schedule a demo today to learn more about how EpochField can transform your storm damage assessment and response processes.

Network Tracing with EpochField Mobile

Historically, network tracing has been a critical piece of functionality needed by field crews in the utility industry. While certain functionality needed in tracing may not be as sophisticated as back-office uses, for example, capacity and flow analysis, it still is heavily utilized in the field along with one very definite requirement: it must work offline.

EpochField Mobile was designed from the ground up with “offline first” being one of the most important factors a utility field worker needs in a working mobile solution. With the capability of being scalable enough to download large areas, or all, of service territories for asset and map visibility to performing field workflow data collection and network tracing, all need to work offline.

Network Tracing with EpochField Mobile

At Epoch Solutions Group, we have supported an optimized offline connected model and tracing for many years. Three main factors led us to this decision that is the driving factor of this post. Our product, EpochSync, used for cross-platform spatial data integration for technologies such as Smallworld and Hexagon G/Technology, will now be integrated into the EpochField platform. There have been many discussions recently regarding Esri’s Utility Network, its capabilities, and how it can be utilized in a mobile solution, and I would like to address some factors in this topic.

  • Many of our Esri-based customers are still in the process of transitioning from geometric network to utility network and still need that tracing experience in the field today. The tracing extract functionality within EpochField Data Preparation Server has connectors for both Geometric Network and Utility Network. We can deploy offline network tracing to the field fed by the geometric network and switch very easily to the utility network. Once the transition happens in the enterprise GIS with no changes to the field, apart from the different schema necessitated by the utility network.
  • Utility Network is still not available offline, so any solution that utilizes this is severely limited in low or zero cellular coverage areas. Offline tracing through the EpochField Mobile network model continues with zero interruption.
  • Many of our customers utilize other GIS Platforms such as Smallworld and Hexagon as their system of record. EpochSync, which is now part of the EpochField solution, can handle the synchronization of network connectivity data straight into the EpochField Mobile network model. With the plugin architecture of EpochSync Pro, additional data sources can easily be customized to integrate other network connectivity models. This also adds additional capabilities to the EpochField Mobile solution, such as the ability to view Smallworld Internal Worlds, which has been somewhat of a mystery to other mobile solutions.
Network Tracing with EpochField Mobile

All in all, implementing a geospatial enabled mobile solution with tracing is often not just a simple question of “does it do network tracing?” There are many factors in how the solution meets both the business requirements and integrates with the existing enterprise architecture seamlessly and with a future roadmap. Utility network is absolutely part of ours but only when it is part of yours.

Schedule a demo to learn more about EpochField’s network tracing capabilities and how they can work for you.

Just Released: EpochField 4.3.5

Epoch Solutions Group is excited to announce that the release of EpochField 4.3.5 is now available in mobile app stores for both Android and iOS and an install package for Windows 10 (UWP). EpochField is a complete, end-to-end multi-platform workforce management solution designed for both back-office work management and field crews to strategize, plan, and execute utility workflows in a map-centric, disconnected, real-time environment.

EpochField 4.3.5 is a minor follow-on to the previous 4.3.4 EpochField release. It continues to build on and strengthen the capabilities of 4.3.x EpochField in several key areas of the software and user experience.

For 4.3.5 to work as expected, please ensure the version alignment for your EpochField Suite is as follows:

  • EpochField Mobile 4.3.5
  • EpochField Workflow Builder 4.3.2
  • EpochField Work Management Server 4.3.2
  • EpochField Work Scheduler 4.3.3
  • EpochField Data Preparation Server 4.3.1

What’s New:

Synchronization of work order tables and work order features happens bi-directionally. This includes all work tables, including attachments which can become extremely large. There is a new EpochField Mobile application configuration boolean parameter under the <WorkManagementToolSettings> tag called.  If this is omitted from the application configuration, the behavior defaults to false (current behavior, which is bi-directional attachment sync).  Set it to true, and the work management replica geodatabase is created with the option to only upload attachments set, so attachments created by others are not downloaded. The usage is as follows: 





Issues addressed in this update:

Bugfix #21493: This is a product enhancement that allows the user to save their layer visibility settings on a portal group level between application sessions. Settings are saved to the device and can be removed if the user chooses to. To save the layer visibility settings, the user can tap on a “Save” button on the Operational Layers Tool UI. These saved settings are removed from the device when the application is uninstalled.

Bugfix #24499: The animation behavior of the GPS symbol on the map can cause a spike in GPU activity, adversely affecting the usability of EpochField Mobile. To address this problem, we have added a configuration setting to the application configuration. Set the value to false to disable the animation behavior:




Bugfix #24821: Prior to this fix, EpochField Mobile for UWP could not be downloaded for offline install from the Windows Store, which is a requirement for some customers who distribute the app through their own MDM.

Bugfix #25187: This fix addressed a problem with the Click Integration toowhere no matter which asset in a selection list is checked/selected for passing to ClickMobile, only the first asset in that list is sent.

Bugfix #25456: In short, electric tracing was broken. We fixed it.

Bugfix #25598: While trying to route from an asset on the map from the Identify results user interfacewhen using an external routing application, it throws an error message to the user. It would first display the error message about the Address Search not being enabled, with no additional information in the log.  A second route search on a nearby asset does not throw the error a second time.

You’ll find EpochField 4.3.5 in the App Store and Google Play today, or contact us at:
720-458-3006 or

EpochField as a Service – A New Offering

As part of our next major release for EpochField, we are moving to a new offering in the way of SaaS. As part of this article, I’d like to address some of the industry trends that have led us to this decision and an exciting new chapter for EpochField and our existing and new customers.

EpochField integrates with multiple back-office IT systems such as GIS and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). This integration becomes even more critical now that EpochField 5.0 supports scheduling and dispatch with Work Scheduler. These IT systems invariably are deployed on-premise with customizations to support the utility’s unique business processes. Together with the practice of certain accounting rules, it was a natural decision for us to launch EpochField supporting this on-premise model of implementation. With this model, after implementation, the utilities IT team would take over day-to-day support of EpochField and have complete autonomy of the environment to be successful with the architecture.

However, one of the significant drawbacks to the on-premise model has been the impact on the support team. Software vendors continue to evolve their products which for Epoch is two major releases per year, and taking into account some of the other major back-office system upgrades taking 1-3 years and migrations in virtual hardware infrastructure, the utilities IT staff is completely consumed upgrading and replacing all these systems.

So, how do we free up these IT resources to focus on non-support items and internal innovation and increase their bandwidth? There are lots of reasons for a software vendor choosing SaaS as a deployment strategy for its products. Still, it is why it is valuable for our customers, which is the primary driving factor here at Epoch.

  • A SaaS architecture allows the utility to evolve with the latest new features in quick iterative releases and, through the automation factor, relatively cheap to test and deploy.
  • SaaS vendors provide automated patch releases and upgrades across all the products. This needs to be done seamlessly to the business and efficiently, especially when dealing with geographically and intermittently connected field personnel. This in itself is a huge time saver for internal IT personnel.
  • A large part of the business we support with utilities is dependent on seasonal processes and events. For example, subcontracting a large pole inspection project for the spring/summer in a climate that has major ground freezing or mutual aid crews being enabled in the event of a major hurricane. Through a SaaS architecture, the licensing and scaling on the solution are automatic and metered, so you only pay for what you need and, therefore, no need to overprovision. Imagine the scaling of internal architecture for that once-in 2-year event that may hit your service territory. This factor is probably one of the most significant selling points of cloud solutions.
  • For a utility trying to attract new talent, legacy/aging infrastructure is probably the most significant factor in losing good internal IT talent. With SaaS, it leverages modern software tools and practices but also allows the internal talent to work on new and innovative internal projects.

In summary, SaaS takes away the cost and mundane tasks that running on-premise software has. It also forces good software practices and helps enforce configuration over customization, which is the path of destruction for many utilities. We often say that utilities all do the same thing but differently. SaaS helps enforce best practices.

As a final point, while SasS will become an offering that we feel will benefit customers, we will continue to offer on-premise implementations to support customers whose internal policies need it. The improvements we are planning in EpochField architecture will benefit even these implementations.

Just Released: EpochField 4.3.4

Epoch Solutions Group is excited to announce that the release of EpochField 4.3.4 is now available in mobile app stores for both Android and iOS and an install package for Windows 10 (UWP). EpochField is a complete, end-to-end multi-platform workforce management solution designed for both back-office work management and field crews to strategize, plan, and execute utility workflows in a map-centric, disconnected, real-time environment.

EpochField 4.3.4 is a minor follow-on to the previous 4.3 EpochField release. It continues to build on and strengthen the capabilities of 4.3.x EpochField in several key areas of the software and user experience.

For 4.3.4 to work as expected, please ensure the version alignment for your EpochField Suite is as follows:

  • EpochField Mobile 4.3.4
  • EpochField Workflow Builder 4.3.2
  • EpochField Work Management Server 4.3.2
  • EpochField Work Scheduler 4.3.3
  • EpochField Data Preparation Server 4.3.1

Issues addressed in this update:

Bugfix #24575: Category list scrolling in Workflow forms was broken. For long category lists, if you scrolled down to the bottom of the list and selected a category, then chose a value, the category list would ‘snap’ or ‘jump’ back to the top unexpectedly, causing some confusion about what the user was seeing. This has been fixed.

Bugfix #24867: While using an Android device and collecting Map Markup information, the barcode/QR scan button would crash EpochField when it was pressed. This has been fixed and the barcode/QR scan functionality now works as expected running EpochField on Android.

You’ll find EpochField 4.3.4 in the App Store and Google Play today, or contact us at 720-458-3006 or

How to Use an External GPS Device in EpochField

EpochField is configurable to use GPS external to the device on which you are running the app. You may want to do this if your device does not have an internal GPS or if its native GPS is not precise enough, or for some other reason. On Windows, this can be done by configuring the app to get its GPS data from a serial port; on iOS or Android, and you will need to configure your device’s location manager to use the external GPS device. This article covers how to configure external GPS devices to work in these scenarios with EpochField Mobile.

GPS Data from Serial Port (Windows)

A common type of external GPS device is one that connects via Bluetooth. Once paired, your Windows machine will assign virtual COM ports to this device which EpochField may be configured to connect to.

How to Use an External GPS Device in EpochField

Getting the COM Port

On Windows 10, open “Bluetooth & other devices,” go to “More Bluetooth options,” and select the “COM ports” tab. From here, you can see which port to use for GPS in EpochField.

Configuring EpochField to use Serial GPS Data

Once you have found the port, you need to configure EpochField to use serial data for GPS. In your ApplicationConfig.xml file, go to GPS settings and set the following parameters.


GPS device 0 tells EpochField to get its GPS data from a serial port. COM3 is the port from which to read the data. This will be whatever COM port your GPS device is using. If you get the port wrong, EpochField will attempt to find the correct port. If it fails to find the port, the app will notify you.

Once connected to the GPS device, if the device is functioning correctly, you will see EpochField using the data it gets from the device. If it is not working correctly, see “Using the Correct GPS Data” below.

“Using the Correct GPS Data” below. GPS Data Via Your Device’s Location Manager (Android or iOS)

On Android or iOS, you can have the external GPS take over your device’s location manager. Once you have accomplished this, there is no need to configure EpochField, as it will already be using your device’s location manager by default.

Using the above example of a Bluetooth GPS device, once you have paired the external GPS with the device running EpochField, you will need to download an app that allows you to “mock” GPS with an external device. On Android, the “Bluetooth GNSS” app is an option, but there are many others available.

Assuming we are using Bluetooth GNSS, open Settings on your device and enable Developer Options; from there, change ‘Set Mock Location App’ to “Bluetooth GNSS”. Open the Bluetooth GNSS app, select your external device as the target, and hit Connect. You should soon see data coming in from the device. If you do not, see “Using the Correct GPS Data” below.

How to Use an External GPS Device in EpochField
How to Use an External GPS Device in EpochField

Using the Correct GPS Data (All devices)

If you are not getting any data from the device after doing the above, it is possible the device is not configured to send you the correct data. Many devices have free apps from the manufacturer that allow you to configure the device. Using a Trimble device as an example, we downloaded the GNSS Status app which was available on all platforms (Windows, iOS, Android). In this app, we opened the Source tab and selected all NMEA data. Once we did this, the data we needed from the device began streaming in.

Written by:
Jon Ruland – Software Engineer

How to Associate Map Markups with Work Orders

Fieldwork often involves adding sketches, text blocks, and other various redlining elements to a digital map in the field while completing assigned work orders. These sketches, also referred to in the EpochField product ecosystem as “map markups,” bring valuable sources of ground truth from the field to the back-office, maintaining currency and accuracy in an organization’s work management system.

One of the significant challenges in collecting and storing map markup drawings is knowing the answer to this question:

Do these map markups have a spatial and/or business relationship to a particular work order, and if so, which one?

EpochField Mobile addresses this challenge. When a user in the field selects a work order to fulfill, a map markup, new or existing, can be linked to that current work order. The relationship then persists throughout the lifecycle of the work order. This becomes extremely useful in analytics and reporting, both visually and geographically.

This article covers a use case where a field worker completes a work order and finds the need to add information to it using the Map Markup tool. The map markup tool in EpochField Mobile is used for capturing map markup elements drawn on the map while either offline or connected to a network that can be synchronized to the back-office database

Configuring EpochField Mobile to honor the Map Markup and Work Order relationship

A specific element needs to be added to the application configuration for this linking functionality to work. The app configuration needs the tag set to true in the MapMarkupToolSettings parent element.

How it works

The user works in a selected work order and decides that a map markup diagram is needed to complete the work order.

How to Associate Map Markups with Work Orders

The user will select the Map Markup Tool on the toolbar and complete all map edits with the Map Markup Tool.

How to Associate Map Markups with Work Orders

The user will click the associate button on the main Map Markup List.

How to Associate Map Markups with Work Orders

The Selected Work Order shown on the bottom of the map is then associated with that Map Markup.

How to Associate Map Markups with Work Orders

The user can associate as many Map Markups with a Work Order as desired. However, a Map Markup can only be associated with a single Work Order. Users can disassociate the Map Markup by clicking the Disassociate button. This removes the reference to the selected work order from the Map Markup record.

How to Associate Map Markups with Work Orders

Establishing and managing relationships between Map Markup drawings and work orders is easy and intuitive using EpochField Mobile.

Written by:
Eric Bader – Product Manager
David Adams – Software Engineer