Taking conservation rangers further with Neptune

Published on the 20/02/2018 | Written by Zag

Soltius Neptune_DOC


DOC logo


  • Central Government, Trade services


  • Digitise ‘in the field’ manual data collection
  • Modernise asset management solution
  • Eliminate manual work, accelerate efficiency


  • Neptune Software implemented by Soltius
  • Mobile application picks up data, synchronises with SAP back end


  • Rapid collection of data at remote sites using mobile devices
  • Time saved, manual work eliminated
  • Improved data accuracy
  • Data is assimilated faster, allowing for improved/more accurate maintenance schedules
  • Improved risk identification and management.


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Department of Conservation innovates mobile strategy with Neptune Software Gold Partner Soltius, improving data quality for Maintenance Planning and funding…

As the custodians of New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, the Department of Conservation (DOC) requires a huge amount of accurate data to understand visitor demand and inform maintenance decisions for equipment in the field. Recognising the limitations of heavily customised legacy technology for data gathering and use, it engaged with Soltius which provided a mobile solution powered by Neptune Software. As a result, it has revolutionised the way information is gathered and used, enabling DOC to move closer to its vision of making New Zealand into the greatest living space on earth.

DOC, or Te Papa Atawhai, is the central Government agency charged with conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage on behalf of all New Zealanders. It manages 8.7 million hectares of conservation estate, which is equivalent to 30 percent of New Zealand’s landmass, and employ 2000 permanent staff to monitor and preserve natural habitats and infrastructure throughout the estate.

DOC is working towards a future where New Zealand’s history is protected and brought to life, where more people participate in recreation and value the benefits of conservation.

Among the operational challenges faced by DOC is the maintenance of tracks, huts and other infrastructure located across the country, often in remote and inaccessible terrain. Infrastructure upkeep is influenced by the overall usage of each track or structure, so permanent and temporary counting devices are deployed nationwide to gather and store data 24/7, 365 days a year. These statistics are crucial in determining and prioritising the required level of investment for infrastructure in use around New Zealand.

DOC’s existing solution for counters relied on heavy customisation of a maintenance application and old technology. It also didn’t allow for ad hoc downloads to occur outside of planned maintenance.

The organisation therefore sought a solution that could reliably deliver and integrate with its existing systems of record to make data capture easy, accurate and efficient. While a mobile solution was the obvious answer, DOC Rangers gathering usage data from ‘counters’ operate in environment far outside of cellular network connectivity, necessitating offline capability.

Having supported the department’s SAP implementation since 2003, Soltius was engaged to build and innovate DOC’s mobile strategy. After consideration of DOC’s environment, including use of Android devices and requirement for offline capability, Soltius proposed a solution which would integrate SAP direct to mobile using Neptune Software.

Neptune is SAP native and uses standard SAP authentication for fast, secure and cost-effective implementations, minimising total cost of ownership.

Installed on the handsets of DOC Rangers, the solution works over cellular or Wi-Fi networks when available. Using Bluetooth, the smartphone application connects to the infield counting devices, transferring and confirming all records before removing them from the counter. When the ranger’s smartphone reconnects to cellular or WiFi, the data securely syncs back to DOC’s SAP system.

“The user experience of downloading data, from what we now call ‘DOC Counters’, is significantly better with the addition of Neptune Software; it makes my work less stressful knowing I can trust the solution connection and sync back to SAP,” comments Shay van der Hurk, DOC Ranger Recreation/Historic.

Soltius has also rolled out BlueWorx at DOC, a comprehensive Mobile Asset Management application which removes reliance on its customised SAP Mobile Asset Management solution, Work Manager.

“To put it simply, Neptune for us was better, stronger and faster,” explains Mike Hopkins, Enterprise Resource Planning Team Lead.

He says accurate and easy data collection from the 650-670 DOC Counters in use means Ranger visits are more efficient and the counting process is handled at lower cost and effort.

With the time DOC Rangers save, they can complete more Counter visits, and data collection becomes more frequent which pleases the Planning, Monitoring and Reporting Team. Hence, benefits have been reaped on both the business and user ends.

Good data has been invaluable to DOC, as reliable evidence gives greater weight to its ongoing funding conversations. Additionally, well-informed service and infrastructure maintenance has improved the general safety of pertinent structures and recreation facilities around New Zealand.

“With Soltius it doesn’t feel like a vendor-customer relationship, it feels like a partnership,” Hopkins adds.

Now enjoying the benefits of better data capture and accuracy, DOC is seeking to build on this foundation; Soltius subsequently developed a Visitor Risk Management capability, again using Neptune Software. This solution will enhance the safety of visitors to DOC parks by triggering notifications within SAP to schedule the work required to resolve or mitigate risk presented by an identified hazard.

And when DOC moved its infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS), it again entrusted Soltius with the work. This further extends DOC’s mobile capability and ability to connect with visitors through conservation assets.

These initiatives and projects are part of the department’s digital strategy, serving the broader organisational objectives of preservation, engagement and stronger business partnerships. Ultimately, in conjunction with Soltius, the ongoing program of work will help maintain New Zealand as the greatest living space on earth.

Source: This article was originally sourced from Soltius


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