This story is about how we, Expload, could reduce each three hours spent on doing research to just one hour!
Did you know that there are still many explosives in the soil in theNetherlands? Almost daily dozens of pieces are removed from the soil by specialized companies and stored safely for destruction by the Explosives Clearance Service of Defense.
In 2015, we of Expload were suddenly confronted with a sharply increasing demand for advice on the risks of explosives from the Second World War. Such issues are particularly relevant to area development, where the soil is excavated. Or at sea, where wind turbines are placed and power cables are buried in the seabed. We help by mapping the locations of explosives and
assessing the risks. We then provide advice and other organizations do the actual investigation. We can therefore look independently at the needs of the customer. We also often try to keep the costs of an explosive investigation, which are mainly paid for socially, as low as possible.
Because we only provide advice, we depend on data. In particular, many digitized historical documents. Our filing system is growing every week: every time we go to a new archive for a client, information is added. How do you find the correct and complete information in folders with more than 10th of thousands of files built up of more than 75 years of history? The value of our products lies in finding data from a wide range of sources and applying this in the customer's case.
Answering a question can easily take a few days to a few weeks.
To ensure that we don't have to search again and again, we have entered into a partnership
with Connect Software BV. With the Tagging for Windows software we have been able to achieve a huge improvement in efficiency and effectiveness, both in conducting investigations and answering questions from organizations. Read through the customer situation below to get an idea of what we do.
Post-warhistory of the Rotterdam port area
Team Expload -historical research
The jungle ofdata that emerged during our preliminary investigations for the port of
Rotterdam area consisted of tens of thousands of unique pieces of data, with which a normal approach from a historical investigation could not help. We needed real insight to ensure that records were not studied twice, or worse, the value of which had been forgotten. Drawings with groundwork carried out in the ports from the years 1946 to 2019, plans with plans for the port
developments, historical aerial photo images, files from quays, dredging work and renovations on the land sections. It was all collected and of great value to capture the history of the port once and for all.
Our project for the Rotterdam port area happened to run parallel to the use of the tagging
software, Tagging for Windows was new to us, but not difficult. It started with establishing a tagging structure. We have chosen to organize our information first by theme, then by location and then by year. That turned out to work quickly. In no time we had categorized all post-war
port works for a region like Europoort and we were able to quickly find back what had happened between 1957 and 1966, for example. That was a period in which major changes were made to the landscape.
We startedwith one user on one computer. It wasn't long before we shared the tagging
structures throughout the organization by storing the tagging stores on our server for each project. Every colleague with tagging software on his or her computer can then load a tagging store into an explorer and work with it. In the projects for the port area, several users worked in parallel in one tagging structure and used each other's data.
This way of linking data has also helped us enormously in the post-delivery phase of the
various projects in the port area. If a change has to be made to a project because new information has become available, and you are no longer "in" the project, then it is useful to become familiar with the dataset again via the tagging structure. You can add the new insights and easily relate to data that relates to the same period and location. The chance that you miss something because you have been out of the project flow is small.
With the user-friendly software Tagging for Windows we have taken a big step. Many documents are now neatly arranged by theme, place and date. Teams can retrieve files that have been unlocked by others. Not only did it cost us a lot of time, it also saved us a lot of costs. From each three hours, we could bring the time spent on research down to one hour! Hours, even days, that were otherwise spent transferring knowledge in the traditional way. And costs to restore work
through insights that surfaced too late.
Now, 3 years later,the history of the ports in Rotterdam after the Second World War is broadly in
focus. For each port section - Waalhaven, Eemhavens, Botlek, Europoort etc. - tag structures have been set up. Our client is enthusiastic and so are we!