EpochField 5.2 Release

What's New in EpochField 5.2

EpochField 5.2 introduces new features for data management and administration along with an enhanced user interface, including support for phone format devices. In addition, it migrates the mobile application to the .Net Maui framework to follow some recent Apple App Store compliance issues related to iOS 17 support with the Xamarin framework. A number of bug fixes and performance improvements have also been implemented in both the EpochField Web Suite and EpochField Server components.

The following highlights some of the new features available at 5.2.

Product Highlights

  • Work Management Enhancements: As part of our support for vegetation management workflows, we have made some significant improvements to the work management tool:
    • Streamlined Workflows: Enhanced data collection capabilities simplify processes, reducing administrative time by simplifying data entry and facilitating efficient editing, bulk creation, and deletion of features.
    • Improved Data Accuracy: Enhanced features ensure precise data entry, minimizing errors in records. Personalized work feature filters help tailor data management to specific needs.
    • Enhanced Field Worker Efficiency: Tools like auto-populating form categories and customizable work order filters optimize field worker productivity. Optimized user experience on Toughbooks with stylus support enhances usability in the field.
  • Redesigned Mobile UI/UX
    • Mobile Interface Redesign: Modern and intuitive design for enhanced usability.
    • Engaging Experience: Improved interface boosts productivity and simplifies interactions.
    • Intuitive Navigation: Easy-to-use design for seamless navigation and understanding.
    • Increased Efficiency: Streamlined workflows promote faster task completion.
    • Simplified Interactions: Reduced complexity for improved usability.
  • WMS Inbound Queue Optimization
    • Improved Performance and Stability: Enhancements boost system efficiency and stability.
    • Streamlined Operations: Optimized processes ensure smoother workflow execution for enhanced productivity.
    • Minimized Disruptions: Identified and resolved bottlenecks in the WMS Inbound Queue to minimize work management disruptions.
  • Self-Managed Work Order Process Improvements
    • Work Order Task Upload: A large part of utility field work involves workers planning their own work in the absence of enterprise-driven work order creation. Field workers can initiate ad-hoc work orders and upload CSV lists of assets for completing assignments, such as routine inspections, within EpochField Mobile.
  • Work Order Status Visibility Enhancement
    • Enhanced Visibility: Provides unified visibility into work order statuses for improved operational oversight.
    • Shared View: Ensures all stakeholders have a common, near real-time view of work order statuses.
    • Configurable Status Flow: Provides ability to define statuses and allowed status transitions between statuses on work orders to promote controlled workflows and align with outside systems.
  • Esri ArcGIS Enterprise 11.1 Support
    • Compliance with Esri ArcGIS Enterprise 11.1 software, aligning the platform with industry standards and providing users access to the latest geospatial capabilities.
  • .NET Maui Migration
    • Future-Proof Development: Establishes a solid foundation for future cross-platform mobile development.
    • iOS 17 Support: Migration to .NET Maui addresses recent Apple App Store compliance issues related to iOS 17 support.

Bug Fixes

ID Title
30727 Workflow Form: Navigation button enabled even though there is nowhere to navigate
30823 Omni-present Identify Tool does not reactivate once deactivated
30892 Map Markup: Editing a map markup feature comment appears buggy on iOS
30897 Login button remains active on a fresh install when the application is offline
31069 Inconsistency with the required indicator on the workflow UI
31706 Address search routing needs improvement in UI
31777 Map Markup Attachment view is too large
31926 Support for Composite Locators needed
32249 Rename the title of the Sort Work order filter to: "Choose and order fields to sort by:" from "Choose up to 3 fields to sort by"
32329 When a work order filter is enabled and group visibility is managed, the filter shows as active but is not
32360 Work order filters not functioning consistently
32399 Mobile: Map markup attachments with long names cover the delete button
32407 Work Calendar: Scheduled equipment doesn't display unit number in the resource name
32413 Opening a Work Order without editing causes users to become "stuck"
32414 Print Options: "Map Only" and "Header and Footer" produce the same result
32415 Worker calendar: "Add title" text defaults for an unnamed resource at a specific time
32435 Asset Query Screen: Filtering on date fields fails to generate a workable query
32440 Unable to enlarge Gantt chart in version 5.1
32455 PDF attachment doesn't work when added from Mobile and opened in Work Scheduler
32460 Adding attachment to a work order in Work Scheduler results in inability to open attachment on mobile
32508 Scroll Bar covers buttons
32567 Groups/Roles Currently Assigned are not populating
32570 Assets tab not visible when clicking to View an SDS Work Order
32658 Work Order Dialog: Input validation on existing WO throws a message
32672 Fixing file already exist error
32673 Table EPOCHFIELDUSER creates a new user record every time it goes to the portal
32674 Selecting address suggestions fails to actually select the suggestion
32683 Issues with Sync Fusion controls for iOS and Android
32888 Mobile: Version 5.2 crashes in EFRelationship in models
33042 Omni present tool bug on Google Street View and tracing tools
33072 Unable to create a new worker in Resource Management
33137 Caching Base Workspace Names takes over an hour
33140 Several functions in WMS take several minutes to run or more
33142 Running WMS generates a bunch of empty log files for each tool
33146 Log file purges delete everything in the log folder, not just old logs
33380 enable_archiving_attachments.py script is broken
33526 Remove portal maintenance from WMS
33578 Database after running Archiving/Attachments is missing some views
33581 Work Order List/Filtering Gantt: Issues with colors
33623 EF Data Class doesn't default schema to configured value
33833 Saving color in Schedule Item type saves an "ff" at the end of the hex
33892 Weird and intermittent messages related to out of memory exception while downloading a package more than 200 MB
34087 Gantt Filter doesn't change colors as expected when filtering
34091 Creating child work order from Gantt is inconsistent
34455 Work Scheduler freezes when map configuration to ESRI is not correct
34486 Work management views loading bug
34917 State model processes take a long time to load
34918 Errant character "<" in Processes page
34919 Save Process button
34921 Not able to add states with a hyphen
34923 Should not be able to save a process without transitions
34924 Left align the Process cards
34926 Validation of transitions is too much
34963 Large space between tabs and Event log grid
35014 Data Prep has incorrect scripts for EPOCHFIELDLOG and does not contain EPOCHFIELDSCHEDULEITEMVIEW
35064 Should not be allowed to copy a Schedule Item Process type
35065 Clicking copy on process card creates 2 copies
35067 States are not copied correctly when copying a process
35088 Word Order ID overlaps buttons when adding User History in ad-hoc work order
35091 Duplicate process name validation does not clear
35092 Can't tell which states are duplicate
35093 Copying processes naming is weird
35094 Certain states are required so different products can function
35095 Sort Process cards by name
35096 Editing a state model process should allow for adding transitions and states
35097 Edited process names not showing correctly in process cards
35098 Performance issue when refreshing process cards
35104 State model audit tracking not inserting nulls for nullable IDs
35107 Sort State model dropdown
35109 Each update to WO causes a state audit record to be saved
35112 Deleting all scheduled items does not set the audit tracking correctly
35113 Scheduled item changes are not being audited
35526 Work Order Filter Form freezes when tapping reset to default
35535 Fix known issue with layer toggle colors
35558 System has issues after it has 2000 active work orders
35674 Database Lock
35718 Logs are not uploading to WebApi
35742 Leading or trailing spaces should be trimmed off when updating in Resource Management
35787 Relationship attributes information does not display when the key fields used in the relationship joins are included in the attribute exclusion tags
35822 When closing a work order form, it throws a null reference exception
36416 Blank Dialog When Typing in Workflow Fields
36671 Sync closes the download-only geodatabase in UWP causing null reference errors
36761 Error with null reference on addControl for EventLogs component
36779 Add button not working for Configure state for schedule item types
36789 Saving, Save and completing work flow form throwing object reference error.
36830 Sometimes General Settings adds additional records
37005 Broken Access Control Leading to Privilege Escalation
37007 Non-Standardized Queries: SQL Injection In a Stacked Query Context
39369 WMS/InboundQueue/Maint. not functioning as intended

EpochField 5.1.4 Release for Mobile

We are thrilled to unveil the latest version of our mobile app, EpochField Mobile 5.1.4. Our developers have been dedicated to optimizing the field user experience and have implemented numerous improvements to enhance the app’s performance and efficiency. We take pride in providing our clients with a reliable product, and EpochField Mobile 5.1.4 is no exception. Discover the exciting changes we’ve made by reading below.

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 5.1.4 can be found in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft App Store today.

Ease of Use

Previously, the app would switch to Pan mode once a tool was closed; now, users can close the tool menu and still make edits on the map, freeing up screen space. Users can now save Operation Layers visibility settings. Map Markup has been improved to allow users to better see and understand the tool’s interface. With this update, users can download multiple files within each region, as well as delete all downloaded data files without encountering any error messages. EpochField Mobile now notifies users when the offline geodatabase syncs successfully.

 

Routing and Geofencing

Our latest updates have made asset management more streamlined and efficient for users. The Identify tool now includes routing functionality, enabling users to quickly locate the desired asset and access directions. Search results are now displayed in order of relevance, and accurately rendered on the map. Geofencing and GPS location updates have been optimized, allowing users to minimize the app without losing progress. Additionally, GPS Breadcrumbs are now limited to the selected work order, while the newly added Compass Navigation feature keeps the user’s location centered on the map during Follow Me mode. Finally, users can utilize Lat/Long results from the Address Search feature for routing purposes and can easily copy and paste the information directly from the app.

Identify and Asset Research

We’ve made several improvements to streamline our search functionality. Users can now seamlessly scroll through search results without the need to update their criteria, and toast messages are now displayed even when the Search Bar is open. We’ve also resolved the issue of objects hidden by Operation Layer options appearing when lassoing assets in Identify, and have corrected the object counts for Asset Search and Identify. To improve the user experience, we’ve added new configuration options that allow users to zoom to the map extent of search results instead of solely focusing on the first result in an Asset Search.

Tracing

Tracing has been enhanced for both performance and ease-of-use. Not only do users experience faster results, the tracing user experience has been upgraded with customizable field ordering and the ability to view multiple types of assets. Additionally, we’ve enhanced the tool’s functionality, allowing users to easily share CSVs generated by the Tracing Tool.

Phone Specific

We’ve made significant improvements to EpochField Mobile to optimize its use on phones and other mobile devices. Phone users will notice that the scale and extent buttons remain visible even when the tool menu is collapsed, and we’ve redesigned the menu to minimize interference with native phone buttons like “Back” or “Home.” The menu now opens at half the height of the phone screen, providing a more streamlined viewing experience. In addition, phone users can now easily access Print Previews, allowing for quick and easy sharing of results.

Feedback and Support

We value your feedback! If you have any questions, suggestions, or experience any issues, please contact our support team at support@epochsg.com

Thank you for your continued support and trust in EpochField mobile. We believe these enhancements will greatly improve your experience. Stay tuned for more exciting developments in the future!

Leverage Utility Field Operations Digitization to Enhance Customer Service

The economy is digitally transforming, and utility companies are taking note. In fact, according to IDC, by 2023 digitally transformed organizations will contribute to more than half of the global gross domestic product. And the investments made by public and private entities to digitize operations are clearly paying off – so much that organizations the world over are doubling down on the strategy.

Consider industry research showing that 35% of business executives claim digital transformation helps them “better meet customer expectations,” 40% say it helps improve their firm’s operational efficiency, and “38% of executives plan to invest more in technology to make it their competitive advantage.”

To keep pace with innovation and deliver the kind of customer experiences expected today, utility companies are modernizing their infrastructure, automating and digitizing workforce management processes to improve employee productivity and operational efficiencies.

More than Cost Savings

While digital transformation strategies can yield significant time and cost savings for utilities, eliminating manual touchpoints from gas and electric customer service processes is a delicate balancing act. Even though modern consumers value – and expect – the easy, fast access to information they get using your website, social media outlets, chatbots, and other self-service resources, there are many instances in which only a live agent can meet a customer’s service needs.

Though the quality of the customer service you provide isn’t typically associated with your field operations, having an enterprise-grade, digitized workforce management platform in place can prove invaluable during the most critical, time-sensitive customer service interactions. Without immediate digital access to remote field service teams and infrastructure data, your agents may be ill-equipped to respond to customer inquiries during times of need – such as when an outage disrupts their daily lives or ability to conduct business.

Investing in the right utility digital tools can transform service interactions into positive customer experiences that resolve issues faster and instill consumer confidence in your brand. The most advanced solutions on the market today empower live agents and other internal staff members with these and other benefits:

  • Instantaneous exchange of data across systems, applications, locales, and personnel
  • The ability to distill data into strategic insights for more informed decisions on field deployments and other aspects of your operations
  • Automated workflows that expedite processes and reduce human errors
  • Faster, more accurate responses to service inquiries, for more positive customer experiences and better consumer sentiment overall

Beyond Technology

While the breadth of functionality achieved through digitization can prove transformative to your utility company’s operations and service levels, as with any organization sweeping changes to your infrastructure should be supported by a comprehensive change management strategy. Ultimately, staff members need to be well trained on the technologies you are introducing and comfortable assuming any new tasks and responsibilities your digital transformation initiative requires of them.

When evaluating field operation solutions, ensure possible partners provide the training and support resources utility companies need to educate both internal staff members and critical field operations teams on our industry-leading technologies. Implementation teams should be part of the process from the design and development phases of a project through the platform’s roll-out and beyond.

Why Choose EpochField

Epoch Solutions Group’s EpochField Service Platform transforms customer experiences by laying the foundation for business process automation, enterprise-wide data access, and real-time communication between field operations and internal teams, including vitally important customer service agents.

Based on the industry’s most advanced geospatial and workflow management technologies, EpochField enables seamless integration across your utility’s digital infrastructure and automation of processes ranging from data collection and reporting to field operation scheduling and work order management.

With EpochField, utility companies achieve deep visibility into what is happening throughout the regions and communities they serve and can therefore communicate up-to-date information to customers and other stakeholders in real time. Broad data access also helps internal teams quickly prioritize field operation team deployments to optimize service levels and minimize downtime when adverse events occur.

Highly configurable to meet an individual utility company’s unique infrastructure and service requirements, EpochField offers a breadth of essential features, including:

  • Mobile offline viewing for field personnel who are often working in remote locales
  • High-performance maps that dynamically update as new data is fed into the system
  • Configurable work order forms that can be customized for the customer service request at hand

With a track record of success extending back decades, we bring to clients a deep understanding of the technological, operational, and customer service challenges facing utility companies today – and proven industry best practices you can easily adopt now to ensure your investments in digitization deliver on their promise for years to come.

Contact us today to request your free consultation and EpochField demo.

Digitization in Mobile Workforce Management: Overcoming 5 Barriers in Field Operations

The pandemic added a level of urgency to digitization in utilities unlike anything the industry has ever seen. And yet, for many companies, the ongoing work towards digital transformation has been anything but smooth.

In this report, we cover some of the barriers we’ve seen firsthand as companies follow the path to streamlining and simplifying end-to-end mobile workforce management.

Read the guide to learn:

  • How digitization is reshaping field operations and bridging the gap between field and office workflows
  • The top 5 obstacles companies face when implementing technologies meant to promote digital ways of working
  • How to overcome these challenges with a phased, achievable roadmap to digitization

Download the White Paper

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:

None

EpochField Web API

  • Cannot find stored procedure error when using SQLServer fix

Known Issues:

None

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

None

EpochField Administrator

  • Work order comments in Scheduler for mobile fixes
 

Known Issues

None

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: 

.. 

.. 

    true 

.. 

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:

..

    false

..

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 sales@epochsg.com

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 wes.clain@epochsg.com

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.

<UseGPSDevice>0</UseGPSDevice>
<GPSComPort>COM3</GPSComPort>

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