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Christchurch-developed software deciphering complex engineering

A Christchurch developed online software package is simplifying the complexities of earth sciences, geotechnical engineering and project management for clients, regulatory authorities and others involved in complex development projects around New Zealand.

Entuitive today launched Datanest, an online data gathering, analysis, mapping and visual reporting package, which founders Tom Davies and Greg Martin say is already benefiting a range of consulting clients. Datanest data is stored securely in Australia only accessible to the owner.

“It’s mainly the industry we came from – geotechnical engineers, contaminated land, ecology, project management companies, architects, sustainability engineers. The common thread is land, land-use and structures,” says Greg, also a founder of the Australasian branches of geotech and environmental firm ENGEO, which acted as a Datanest test user.

Tom says Entuitive hasn’t really had a big profile and is “just another one of those companies in Christchurch – there seem to be dozens – working on some cool stuff. Particularly in Christchurch there seems to be a lot going on”.

While there are already products like Datanest’s four modules available, Tom says there is nothing similar in one package, or as easy to use. Each of the four modules works independently or together and can populate data into draft reports from a range of templates. It operates on a subscription model and includes online user tutorials. Ara graduates now employed by Entuitive played a key role in its development.

“We’ve created tools that streamline industry processes and greatly improve quality. Instead of just spewing out thousands of pages of text reports, we can visually present information tailored to an engineer, a client, a regulatory authority or whoever”.

Greg adds the efficiencies created are reducing often time-consuming data gathering, analysis and presentation, enabling engineers to focus on problem-solving and other areas where they really add value.

“Datanest streamlines often time-consuming data gathering in the field and can populate data into a draft report ready for further work when users get back to the office. New Zealand doesn’t produce enough engineers, so efficiencies are crucial in order to get more done with the people we have. ENGEO has already seen a massive reduction in demand on its GIS team, with gains of thousands of hours per year possible – alongside the increased clarity Datanest offers,” Greg says.

“There’s plenty of credible research showing people digest visual information far more easily than text or data – data visualisation has really come to the fore. Ours is a specialist industry, and Datanest provides so many more tools to really explain what’s going on, which is particularly valuable for complex sites.

“If you’ve got a company trying to deliver a building project update to an offshore client where perhaps English is not their first language, data visualisation is a great way to cross any language barrier and aid understanding. It’s a whole different way of having a conversation,” Greg says.

Tom says Datanest is the result of investment in software development – and local talent. Encouraged by the success of award-winning asbestos management software, Entuitive then built a mapping tool for another software package and found it was being used for up to 90% of ENGEO’s GIS work. After that, one thing continued to lead to another.

“Back then, Entuitive had up to four Ara students doing final year projects with us, and they were fabulous. We now employ three Ara graduates with amazingly complementary skillsets,” Tom says. Further development is a given.

“Datanest should become a platform to build more and more cool and useful stuff, and we’ll be releasing new features. Longer-term we have a vision of having created an ecosystem where multiple disciplines work together with information all in the same place, and you could have a territorial authority review it as well, with anyone digging into further detail as required,” Tom says.