Showing the Way – Supporting Fingerpost Renewals in Dartmoor National Park 

Dartmoor’s fingerpost signs and way-markers are an essential part of the National Park’s infrastructure, guiding around 2.4 million visitors a year and allowing them to safely access and navigate the moor’s 500-mile network of footpaths, bridleways and byways. 

The high ground of Dartmoor experiences a lot of weather, and these assets are frequently located in the most remote and exposed parts of the moor where they are subject to extremes of temperature, wind and rainfall throughout the year.  

Monitoring the condition of Public Rights of Way (PROW) infrastructure and managing the process for renewal and replacement is a key focus for Dartmoor National Park’s Rangers and the Recreation, Access and Estates team. It may not immediately seem like a challenge requiring a technology-based approach but it’s an area which Arcspeed have been proud to have been supporting since 2019 using our Mobile Asset Management app to conduct PROW surveys. 

During this period, we’ve worked closely with DNPA to develop a suite of app-based tools which are now used to record the condition and life-expectancy of the 6,000 items of PROW infrastructure scattered across Dartmoor’s 368 square miles with surveys principally undertaken by Dartmoor’s dedicated team of Voluntary Wardens. 

With the PROW survey app now in its 6th year of successful operation, the technology has enabled DNPA to develop a detailed insight into the condition of the infrastructure over three full cycles of inspections and the next logical step was to streamline the process for renewals of assets in poor condition- previously a complex, difficult to track and predominantly paper-based process.  

Dartmoor Deputy Head Ranger Ella Briens approached Arcspeed in 2023 to explore the possibility of extending the existing app capability to streamline the order process to support a programme of fingerpost replacements. 

As a first step we conducted a requirements workshop with the Ranger and Recreation and Access teams to develop the “to be” process and determine how this could be supported within the app. 

A key requirement was the ability for the order process to be initiated from the field – either from within the PROW survey app after recording poor condition or by locating the asset on a map and initiating a stand-alone order. The process can be initiated either by a Ranger, or by a Voluntary Warden, which then needs to be approved by the relevant Sector Ranger.  

Replacement fingerposts are fulfilled either by DNPA’s Conservation Works team or by an external contractor depending on the fingerpost design and any bespoke configuration, so another key requirement was the ability for the app to automatically determine the fulfilment route and for the task to be assigned to the correct team for delivery.  

A further requirement was the ability for the order process to be traceable at every step, including the ability for the both the contractor and the internal works team to be able to post updates on progress via a web portal, and for Rangers to record completion of works by capturing a photo of the new fingerpost in situ. 

Having captured the core requirements we were then able to build prototype mobile forms which were further refined in a series of feedback sessions with the DNPA team. 

Once the mobile app design was finalised and built we were then able to move on to the web element of the project, designing a simple portal page providing a list of currently open orders and the ability to view, update and export order details.  

The app was then piloted in the field using real order details but running in parallel with the paper-based forms. 

After successful pilot testing, the updated app was briefed and rolled out to the Rangers for live use in August 2023. 

“It is really satisfying to see my idea working so well and making a genuine improvement to the rights of way network.  There are very many considerations when it comes to correctly and consistently waymarking routes and ArcSpeed were able to capture and incorporate these at every stage – thank you!” 

Ella Briens, Dartmoor Deputy Head Ranger 

Around 150 orders have so far been managed using the new system with the order completion time significantly reduced as a direct result of using the new technology.

As a company based in Dartmoor National Park it’s been hugely rewarding to be involved in this project, and seeing the visible results of its success when we are out and about on the moor. 

Contact us to find out more about the project or to explore how similar mobile app solutions can improve asset management and workflow for your organisations.

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