BY HEATHER GOOCH
GIS Dynamics' acronym stands for Geographic Information Systems. The West Chester, OH-based firm has developed geospatial technology solutions for a variety of industries, and its latest product, Go iLawn, has already made a splash in the landscape industry and is poised to take off in the snow and ice management market. Now GIS Dynamics is offering Go iSnow, and a special discount on the product, to SIMA members!
Go iLawn, which debuted Jan. 8, 2009, combines proprietary measuring formulas with aerial photos of the majority of counties across the United States. Subscribers can simply go online to a password-protected Web site, type in an address of the property for which they plan to bid, and within just a few minutes calculate not only an accurate square footage figure, but also true-to-life placement of telephone poles, landscaped islands, fire hydrants and other plow obstacles on the lot—all without leaving the office.
Richard Rettke, operations manager of Slager Lawn and Landscape in Oshkosh, WI, is sold on the program and has used it to bid on snow accounts. "The quality is there, to where it is 99% accurate," he says. "And the best part is the customer service. This is a new program, so there are times when an issue may occasionally crop up. But I get customer service on the line within minutes of a phone call or e-mail, and they work on the issue until it's resolved."
Rettke likes the fact that he can rely on the accuracy of the program to the point that he no longer has to drive to the site—and thus waste fuel. "It's such a timesaver, too," he says. "Another plus is that the photos are taken in the summer, so we're not trying to measure in a foot of snow. In fact, when a potential customer calls on the phone, we ask for their address and punch it up on the program. We can then tell them, 'I see your driveway curves to the left' or 'You have both a front and back walk from your home. Do you want us to price shoveling both of them for you?' Customers are amazed when we tell them 'Our software program allows us to measure your property online.' " The specialized service also lets him price more competitively, Rettke notes.
Jack Torbeck, CEO of GIS Dynamics, says that Go iLawn uses high-resolution aerial photos taken by Pictometry International. They are never more than three years old—and mostly a lot younger than that, so professionals like Rettke can feel confident in their accuracy.
The Go iLawn service features a variety of tools that include:
- Overhead and Directional views (North, South, East, and West) of the property. Neighborhood views are also available;
- Zoom (+/-) and Pan;
- Standard measurement tools, including Area (add/subtract), Distance and Location (latitude/longitude);
- Advanced measurement tools, such as Height, Elevation/Slope, Bearing and Pitch;
- The ability to add custom labels to measurements;
- The ability to export the data into an Excel file and a JPG version of the photo;
- Parcel to Parcel Tool, which allows users to view a nearby property without having to enter another address; and
- Object Counting, which allows users to count trees, shrubs and rocks.
Go iLawn uses county information to lay in property boundary lines on the photos, Torbeck explains. While the service already showcases more than 80% of the U.S.—its reach is growing every day, and adding Canadian provinces are now available.
"The best way to learn the product and whether it's the right fit for their market is to use our risk-free trial program, which gives you access to 10 transactions (addresses)," Torbeck says.
That's how Rettke first experienced the program. "After the first one," he says, "we were hooked."
The property boundary, according to GIS' collected county parcel data, is outlined in yellow. The measurements are in blue.