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Omniom interview - Casper van Vulpen

Omniom: We sat down with Casper van Vulpen, Director of Sales at Future Insight: an organization that works every day to create solutions that help improve projects in the living environment. Their goal? Reducing or preventing information loss, digitizing work processes and ensuring that parties can make data-driven decisions. In this interview, we elaborate on the added value of these products for the environmental management profession.

How did you end up at Future Insight?

"Actually from the time I started working I have always had commercial roles. I once started in recruitment. There I was introduced to many different companies and pretty soon I then ended up in the software world. Since then, I have always worked with products that automate or digitize work. This often means doing work faster, with fewer errors and at lower costs.


I really like it when it also improves job satisfaction and can automate "simple tasks" so that people have time to really add value with their expertise. Future Insight, and in particular the product Clearly, fit this perfectly and together with our team we are helping to make this possible for our customers."

I'm actually also curious about how Future Insight ever started!

"Our two founders, Bas Hoorn and Rick Klooster, worked together at a large engineering firm and ran a complex project that lasted more than 3 years. A 40 km long infrastructure project. They found that over time and at phase transitions, a lot of valuable information was lost and the complete and most up-to-date insight was often missing. Making choices based on incomplete information, inefficient collaboration or losing agreements with stakeholders often does not benefit projects.


They then thought: this has to be better. What you can see, you can understand, so they came up with a visual program where data, processes and tools would be connected and where information should have a strong relationship with a location on a map. After all, when you talk about something and see it on a map, you know exactly what it's about.

And whence, exactly, the name: Future Insight?

"Yes, so that refers back to: what you see, you can understand. If you want to make good plans, you have to be able to anticipate the consequences of the choices to be made. There had to be a name equal to that. The founders wanted to create an organization that allows you to look a little into the future through better insight. Hence Future Insight."


What exactly is it that Future Insight offers as a product?

"We have several products. We have Clearly.Projects, Clearly.BIM and Clearly.3D-City. Basically what we do with all these products is bring together and visualize information to improve understanding and encourage data-driven work. These products are deployed by contractors and engineers in infra and civil projects and for area development by governments.


Clearly.Projects is used in the preparation, during tenders and in the execution of projects. We visualize relevant information on a map or in a 2D or 3D view. We can also link certain processes related to, for example, stakeholder management, issues, permitting, land acquisition and so on to that map. It can best be described as the unique combination between a project management system such as Relatics and very user-friendly GIS software.


Clearly can also be linked to other systems. For example, parties supply all kinds of sensor information. These data sets can be processed in Clearly into map layers. We can also link to systems like Relatics or the Omniom app to match contact, reports and complaints to locations and stakeholder files. Basically, if data is available in a structured way in other tooling, we can process it.


"The big advantage is that the project team always has the most up-to-date and complete information in one place and therefore no longer works in different tools. It is easier to collaborate interdisciplinarily within the project, including with subcontractors and the client."


What is the added value of working with you when looking at the environmental management profession?


"Then we especially look at Clearly.Projects. So first of all, you have all the information available to you in one place and don't work in different files, folders, through the mail or on post-its. Everyone looks has access to the most complete and up-to-date information and sees the current status of communications and agreements with stakeholders. From there, you can make data-driven decisions and take all environmental factors into account.


Clearly also makes it possible to overlay all kinds of map layers, such as flora and fauna, natural areas and cables and pipes. As an environmental manager, you can also easily add dynamic information by placing a point on the map or drawing a section. You can then link this information directly to the stakeholder in question.


We also digitize all kinds of work processes and collaboration. For example: I see an interface at location X and add that interface on the Clearly map. Piet is responsible for the interfaces and automatically receives a notification. He starts working on this and has 5 days to do something with it. As soon as Pete comes up with something, Jan gets a notification and can give his approval. So we can incorporate all kinds of tasks into the program.


Finally, we can set up smart algorithms, such as automatic stakeholder analysis. For example: between location A and B is the design of the project. We load the design on the map in Clearly and we then perform a Clash analysis of all plots that are "affected" plus a tuned range appropriate to the type of work. This enables us to see all K&L, stakeholders and public facilities at once, saving weeks of manual work and ensuring that no parties are overlooked.


By using Clearly we prevent risks, delays, extra costs and possible nuisance for the surroundings. That is, of course, very important for environmental management."

Suppose a company is convinced of the success of Clearly. So what does the startup process look like for them? Where do you start?


"We always start with a joint kick-off first. We ask: what do you want to do with Clearly? What processes can we set up in Clearly to start supporting your work? Then we ask thorough questions: Why exactly do you want that? What kind of (open) data do you want on the map? What project-specific information do you already have? What else might be valuable for this project?

In this way we arrive together at a number of project-specific processes and valuable map layers in Clearly.


Then they receive training so they can get started themselves. The idea is that we put down the piano, teach the customer how to play the piano, and then they start making music themselves.

Do you also see certain obstacles in the future that may make your work more difficult?

"Yes, what you see is that there are quite a lot of tools. In every project, tools are deployed to support the project. This sometimes creates a bit of a proliferation of systems being deployed. Companies work with Excel, with certain GIS systems and we see various tools regarding sensor information and citizen communication. Because there are so many tools, many organizations can't see the forest for the trees and they also don't want to present too many tools to the project team.


So on the one hand, this is a threat to us because we are also "a tool. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for us because we offer software that brings many tools, and the information from those tools, together. Our products thus serve precisely as a kind of spider in the web.


The challenge is in being able to get past the assumptions and then letting them experience how to do it more efficiently without it having to be more work. To this end, we put a lot of time into giving presentations and demonstrations on location. After all, it is also behavior change that we sell. Yes, it's a tool, but it's also a different way of working. An efficient, safe and digital way of working."

Do you have any final tips for contractors or environmental managers from your own expertise that they can get started on right away?

"I think above all you have to make sure that you start working together interdisciplinary. So not that you sit on your own island as an environmental manager. Make sure you really work together and that everyone processes all the information properly and makes it available to others. I may not be entirely objective here, but the best way to do this is of course in a single tool where information from all relevant disciplines comes together and you work digitally with all parties involved, including the client. If you can see the bigger picture together, you all make better choices.


We see that activities often have a strong influence on each other and that, for example, a delayed land acquisition file can have direct consequences on the course of the planning, on the choices that have to be made and on the discussions you have with your stakeholders. Always having all information up-to-date and accessible ultimately leads to a more efficient project and a better relationship with the environment."


Cllick here to read the entire (dutch) interview

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