An OTISS ‘survey’ is created to plan and carry out an inspection cycle on a set of trees or site furniture. A survey consists of a survey record and a set of inspections. An OTISS ‘inspection‘ record is created each time a tree or item is inspected or surveyed. Only those users/inspectors that have been assigned to a survey can create or edit inspections as part of the survey.

Survey stages

Each survey moves through a set of stages – from Planning, Active, Work and finally Closed. This may be all done in a matter of weeks, or may span a year or more. When the same site is due of re-surveying, then, the old survey must be set to Closed, and a new Survey created so that we don’t overwrite any of the previous data.

The Planning stage is used for planning future surveys and recording the aims, expected start dates, etc. Inspectors/surveyors can be assigned to the survey. No inspections can be created or updated when at the Planning stage. These surveys don’t appear in the mobile survey apps.

During the Active stage of the survey the trees/items are plotted, inspected and the recommendations are made. The OTISS mobile survey apps are used to download the survey and sync the inspections back to the OTISS server. Inspections can also be created or updated using the website map and spreadsheet pages.

The (optional) Work stage is used when a separate work team, estate staff or arboricultural contractors carry out and record the work done using the OTISS survey app.

  • The important thing about the Work stage, is that none of the inspection details or recommendations can be changed – only the Work Done checkbox and notes can be updated.
  • A survey can be left in the work stage for many weeks or months to allow the estate team to do the work as an when it suits them.

Alternatively, the consultant may choose the re-inspect the trees after the work teams have completed the works. In this case, they will check that everything has been done to their satisfaction and update the Work Done fields themselves. This can be done either in the Active or the Work stage.

Finally, the survey should be moved to the Closed stage when all the work has been completed. This prevents any further changes to the data stored. If necessary, a Closed survey can be returned to the Active state to allow minor updates. Next year a new Survey is created (using the Re-Survey button below) so that we don’t overwrite any of the previous data.

  • Over time, each site will build up a history of several surveys. It is recommended that only one survey (for each site) should be ‘Active’ or ‘Work’, the others should be ‘Closed’. Otherwise it can get confusing!

In the Locked stage no further alterations can ever be made to the collected data. This survey then forms part of the unalterable, audit trail of the landowner’s legal ‘duty of care’ for the estate, but also protects the arboricultural consultant’s findings and recommendations.


Press the Surveys button to goto the Surveys webpage. This page has a table of all the surveys for a particular site or for all sites on the estate. The buttons along the top of the table are used to create, new surveys or re-surveys. The blue icons at the left hand of each row allow editing and deleting surveys.

Each OTISS ‘survey’ record includes;

  • A Survey Reference or name for this survey. When managing estates, it is best to start the survey reference with the year e.g. “2012 Baseline survey”. This makes it easier when you have built up a history of many surveys.
  • A site for this survey. All the trees/items within a survey must all be in the same site.
  • The start date is the planned or actual start date of the survey.
  • The description field contains information about the purpose and aims of the survey.
  • Stage (or Status) is one of Planning, Active, Work, Closed or Locked – as described above.
  • The report field is a area where the inspectors can record general information about the survey. This can store information about; weather, access, constraints that were encountered, etc. This field can also be used to record general findings about the survey that are not related to a particular tree or item.
  • Each survey also has a list of users that are assigned to the survey. Only these users can create or update the inspections, recommedations, work done, photos, etc – and they can only do so when the survey is in the Active or Work stages. Simply tick/untick to assign the estate users to this survey.

Viewing the Surveys.

The Surveys web page shows all surveys on the estate.

  • Site Filter: The Site box at the top of the page allows you to view the surveys for all sites or for a selected site.
  • Assigned to: This is most helpful when there are several users managing and working on the estate.
  • Use the Search button and click on the column headers to search, filter and sort the table.

Actions on Surveys.

The Survey web page allows the following actions on surveys.

  • New Survey: Create a new survey. First select the site which you want surveyed, then fill in the form as required. If you select “All sites”, then a separate survey is created for each site. Surveys that are created in the planning stage mean that no inspections can be made until it is set to active. As the logged in user, you are automatically assigned to this survey – additional users can be added after you have created the survey.
  • Re-Survey: A copy of the selected survey is made. Initially, there are no inspections in the new survey. But as the re-survey work progresses, the number of inspections should match that of the previous survey.
  • Complete Survey: Select an ‘Active’ survey in the table and use the Complete Survey button to mark the survey as ‘Closed’.
  • Edit: Double-click on a row or press the edit/pen icon to view/edit the survey’s details. The survey stage and other data can be edited and saved.
  • Delete: Press the bin/trash icon to delete the survey. This will delete this survey and all the associated inspections. For added protection, surveys can only be deleted by changing them back to the planning stage (first edit the survey, change it’s stage to planning and save the changes). A pop-up form asks you to confirm the deletion and to remind you that this action cannot be undone.
  • Remove Surveyor: Users can be assigned/removed from the survey by editing the survey and ticking/unticking the appropriate users. Removing a user means that he/she will no longer be able to create or update inspections for this survey, and no longer be able upload/download information from the mobile survey apps. All the inspections that have been carried out will still remain and will carry the inspectors name.