Harnessing Digital Technologies for Environmental Sustainability

Industry experts discuss trends in vegetation management

We recently brought industry experts together for a panel discussion called “Harnessing Digital Technologies for Environmental Sustainability.” The group discussed technologies for keeping railway infrastructure safe and weed-free, the correlation between increased transparency and sustainability, and other topics.

The 60-minute panel discussion is free to watch on the Envu Vegetation Management YouTube channel.

A key takeaway from the discussion that industrial vegetation managers will want to bear in mind is that digital technologies are changing the way railway experts identify and mitigate invasive weeds.

To keep railways moving forward and infrastructure safe, vegetation managers must understand the biodiversity and habitats around them. Regular inspections are mandatory and have historically entailed a painstaking process of checking lines by foot and compiling data from many people over many years. Fortunately, new technologies have improved detection for railway managers, allowing them to distinguish where there are problems versus what areas might not need intensive interventions.

“As we move toward digital transformation on the railways, we’re looking at technologies like remote sensing, aerial survey data and satellite data for detection of vegetation and trees to help us make more informed decisions,” says Graham Owen, senior engineer at Network Rail. “Eventually, we hope technology will provide not just decision support but also decision-making, allowing us to identify higher-risk areas for a more focused approach.”

While these expert panelists have unique perspectives and represent different industry segments and geographies, they share a common foe in invasive weeds and a common hope that, thanks to the formidable combination of herbicide solutions and technologies, vegetation managers and ranchers will win the battle for biodiversity.