You can store photos and other documents with each tree or item.

Photos are usually taken when carrying out surveys using the OTISS survey app. During the survey, when you are entering details about a tree, use the ‘Photo’ icon on the survey form to take one or more photos. The photos are considered to be an integral part of the survey and are sync’ed to the OTISS website along with the other survey data.

The website’s Photo Gallery can then be used to view, update and download the photos collected. Photos and documents can also be uploaded directly onto the OTISS website.

Although we are focusing on photos; PDFs, Word, Excel and other document types can also be stored with each tree or item. These documents are stored and viewed along with the photos as described below. For example, old survey documents, internal decay analysis (e.g. from Tree Diagnostics), tree vitality reports (e.g. from Arborcheck), etc.

This is our first release of the Photos feature, we would appreciate your comments and suggestions on how to improve it.

Storing the Photos

Multiple photos and documents can be stored for each tree or item. We assign each one a category or purpose to help you organise and manage the photos.

  • Survey: Most photos are just taken as part of the survey to record extra information. Typlically they are used to record specific issues that need attention or further monitoring. A good photo of an issue may reduce the need to provide a detailed description, and so speed up the survey process.
  • Identification: Particularly good photos can be marked as ‘Identification’. The most recent identification photo is shown on the Map Popup dialog, in survey forms and in lists. This is to help with locating the correct tree/item for followup maintenance or for re-surveys.
  • Report: If you take lots of photos, then you can mark some of then as ‘Report’ so that they will the ones that are included in the reports.
  • Archive: The ‘Archive’ category is for photos that are no longer relevant, but which you don’t want to delete because they are part of the history or audit trail.
    • For example, a photo would be taken to record a specific issue as part of a survey – it would initially be categorised as ‘Survey’. Some weeks, months or even years later, the issue is resolved and is no longer relevant to the current condition – the photo can be re-categorised as ‘Archive’ to hide it from general viewing, but it is still stored to preserve the history of the issue and its subsequent resolution.
  • Deleted: Photos can (and should) be deleted if they are not worth keeping. Too many photos are just ‘clutter’ that distract the user from focusing on the important issues. NB: each photo uses storage from the Storage allowance of your OTISS subscription, see below. Deleting photos frees up this storage for new photos and documents.

For each photo, we automatically store the time the photo was taken and who took it. You can also enter an optional Caption, i.e. a short note about the photo. We expect this to be only a few words to help with identification or to focus on an important issue, for example: “view from south side”, “extent of damage on east side”, “SE limb with long cracks”.

We store all the photos (and documents) on the OTISS website along with the maps and survey data. Each user/estate is allocated a maximum Storage allowance as part of their OTISS subscriptions (see below).

Taking Photos with the Survey App

Photos are usually taken when carrying out surveys using the OTISS survey app. Read more…

Photos and other documents can also be uploaded direct to the OTISS website using the Upload button on the Photo Gallery page – see below.

Re-surveying a Site

Photos can greatly enhance and speed up the process of re-surveying a site.

  • The ‘Identification’ photos provide the confidence that you are looking at the correct item or tree. No more time wasted checking your location.
  • The ‘Survey’ photos allow you to see how things have changed since the previous survey. You can make a more informed decision about the need (or urgency) for maintenance, or for continued monitoring.

When re-surveying a site, all the ‘Identification’ and ‘Survey’ JPEG photos are downloaded to the survey apps with the survey data. The ‘Archive’ photos are not downloaded – they are no longer relevant.

  • If the tree/item or local suroundings have significantly changed, you can take a new photo and categorise it as ‘Identification’.
  • If issues have been resolved, the ‘Survey’ photos can be re-categorised as ‘Archive’, and the Survey Notes updated accordingly.
  • And of course, photos can be taken to record any new issues.

Photo Gallery

When viewing an estate’s maps and survey data, the large Photos button takes you to the Photo Gallery. You can see all the photos for the estate, or (more usefully) filter them by site or by reference. You can also access the photo gallery from links on the Map Popup dialog and the Survey Forms.

  • Site Filter: The Site dropdown box at the top of the page allows you to view photos from different parts of the estate.
  • Category: This dropdown box allows you to select which categories to focus on. By default the ‘Archive’ photos are hidden.
  • Reference: Enter the full reference/tag for a tree or item and press the Search button to show all the photos and documents for the specified item – including photos from all previous surveys. Setting the Reference field to blank and pressing the Search button shows all photos for the selected site.


As you can see in the screenshot, photos are named as “reference Pnnn.jpg”, i.e. by the Reference of the tree/item, then the letter ‘P’ and a sequence number allocated by OTISS. These names are used when you download the files. Note: If a tree/item has changed its Reference value over time (it does happen!), then we always use the most recent Reference value for the filenames – not the older ones.

Actions

The following actions are available for photos and documents. In each case, use the checkboxes beside the photos to select one or more photos and then press one of the action buttons below.

Note: you can use the SHIFT key (in the usual way) to select a range of photos in one go. First select a photo by mouse clicking the checkbox, then press and hold the SHIFT key and click another checkbox to select all the photos between the first and last ones clicked.

Actions:

  • Edit the Caption of the selected photos. You are prompted to enter a short caption. The same caption is applied to all the selected photos.
  • Delete the selected photos. Please note: there is no undo facility, so we prompt you to confirm the action.
  • Download the selected photos as a ZIP file. The selected photos are all put together and downloaded as a ZIP file. It works best if you save the zip file to your PC/Mac and then open it to access the individual photos. If you select 100s of photos, it will take many minutes to download, but you can be working away while this is happening in the background.
  • Goto the Map to show the item for selected photo.
  • Change the Category of the selected photos.

Upload Photos and Documents

Photos and other documents can also be uploaded direct to the OTISS website using the Upload button on the Photo Gallery page. There are two ways of doing it.

  1. Enter a Site, Category and Reference, then use the Browse button to select one or more photos or document files. The Upload button will then assign all the photos to the tree/item with the specified reference.
  2. If you have photos for lots of trees/items, you upload them all in one go as follows. First rename the files so the each filename is the corresponding Reference/tag used in OTISS, e.g. T100.jpg, T42.pdf, etc (one photo per item). Then enter a Site, Category and leave the Reference blank. Use the Browse button to select the renamed photos and document files. The Upload button will then assign all the photos to the corresponding trees/items.

Adding Photos to Reports

Photos have been added to many of pre-defined reports. A small thumbnail photo is included on each row of the report table.

OTISS provides a powerful system that allows you to create customised PDF and Excel reports which can include these photos. Please read the information at Excel Report Templates to understand how to prepare and use the Excel Templates.

Subscriptions & Storage Allowance.

The Photos feature is part of all the OTISS standard subscriptions and provides several GigaBytes of storage for photos (i.e. about 1,000 medium resolution photos per GigaByte). If you take lots of photos for every tree/item or take lots of high resolution photos, it is recommended that you buy an extra Photo subscription which greatly increases your OTISS storage capacity for photos. Your current Storage Allowance is shown on the Account Settings-> Subscriptions, or Estate-> Subscriptions page.

Modern phones and tablets can take very high resolution photos which produce large files that take longer to upload and download, and will use up you Storage allocation quickly. Occasionally, you may want a high resolution photo to capture a specific issue, fungus, etc. But for most surveying needs, you only need low/medium resolution photos for identification and highlighting issues – these will be perfectly adequate for surveying and putting into reports.

When taking photos, consider configuring your device’s camera to use a lower resolution and (if possible) to crop them to the smallest size. This greatly reduces the time it takes to sync the photos with the OTISS website; it improves performance on the website; and maximises the number of photos you can save on OTISS.