In February this year, an eight year old girl sustained fatal injuries from a falling tree branch at Pitt Town Public School in semi-rural north-western Sydney, New South Wales. Local police inspectors later confirmed that the accident involving the 50-year-old gum tree was unrelated to wind conditions. The tragedy is now the subject of an investigation.
The first duty of a school is to its pupils: inside and outside the classroom.
Schools have long been alert to the risk, with cases of injury, litigation, and even, tragically, death, reaching back decades. The danger to school children, teachers, parents, and members of the public presented by falling branches in and around schools, as well as in parks and public spaces, needs to be measured and acted upon by school management.
Sometimes we can see dead or dying branches in trees; often we cannot see conditions that may lead to tree failure. We can never foresee all possibilities, particularly during and after storm periods. A school can, measure the risk, and plan accordingly.
Schools and councils can be liable and vulnerable to litigation in the event that someone is injured by a falling tree branch in a school, or in a public space managed by local government. Weighing heavily on school administrators’ minds is the questions of how often, and how thoroughly, a school’s trees should be audited.
Citywide employs a team of highly trained and fully qualified arborists using the latest technology and industry best practice to inspect and record all relevant data pertaining to the health and vitality of tree stocks. A report can then be prepared and submitted to the relevant school authorities to keep on record and routinely updated at appropriate intervals, and quotations provided for any works assessed as requiring immediate attention.
A routine inspection program can be customised based on the specific needs of an individual school or preferably a group of schools in the same geographical area, which will then provide obvious cost benefits and ensure maximum value is achieved, enabling finite resources to remain focused on what schools do best – educating their students.
The challenge now is to improve the quality and accuracy of tree safety auditing, while reducing costs and eliminating unneeded audits. This was the principle behind the development of Citywide’s innovative TRAX asset management and maintenance system. GIS based, TRAX displays data geographically on a map interface, clearly identifying all asset classes and types in an easily readable format. TRAX enables effective and comprehensive recording of asset service histories, asset financial information, contractual details, warranties, and asset components. It also provides the ability to track asset performance and reliability from procurement through the full asset lifecycle.
TRAX stores all asset data, including relevant condition, risk and hazard details. It provides a complete individual asset history for each asset class, so that all inspections, works and modifications are date and time stamped against an individual user’s name for full accountability and auditing. This asset history is available to the user working in the field via mobile devices and to the client via the Intra Maps web mapping portal.
Citywide uses TRAX on diverse assets and landscapes. The maintenance process involves four distinct phases in a continuing cycle: objectives, assessment & analysis, maintenance & delivery, and review. Once an appropriate strategy has been established, the maintenance plan is produced. Asset data is sourced from existing data and map bases, together with onsite audits, to build a comprehensive view of current condition and defects.
This allows Citywide to confidently, remotely and cost effectively identify where sources of potential problems or issues are, when they begin to demonstrate early warning signs, and before they transform into a risk or liability issue.
All of this adds up to a system that is both considerably safer, more cost-effective and less labour intensive than reactive approaches. It also means a powerful inventory of data that can be used for other purposes such as capital works and forecasting.
Most importantly, TRAX asset management and maintenance systems ensure risk to people and property is minimised which means school principals sleep well at night, kids head home safe and sound and insurers keep the brakes on premiums. For now!
Speak to the team today about our asset management services and TRAX system.