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WSP delivers surveying and mapping solutions for the entire project lifecycle with speed and certainty. Our crews are first on the ground supporting some of the largest projects in Canada. Regardless of the project size or location, we are there, from field to finish.


Managing Logistics for Remote Projects

June 13, 2016

Over the course of my career I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a variety of interesting Geomatics projects. While every project comes with its unique challenges, remote project locales always prove to be the most difficult to manage. Project location typically dictates many other aspects of the project; survey methodologies, safety, crew selection, equipment and transportation all depend on geographic location. Three projects that I’ve recently managed that stand out were located in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Northern Manitoba and Baffin Island, Nunavut.


Inuvik to Tuktoyuktuk Highway (ITH), Northwest Territories

Northern projects usually involve extreme weather but when combined with a winter construction schedule, almost 24-hour darkness and the fact that the project is located 3° North of the Arctic Circle, extreme weather can be an understatement.  Local knowledge is key for dealing with these conditions and fortunately we’re partnered with an Inuvialuit company based in Inuvik under a joint venture: Mackenzie Delta Geomatics Limited.  Having local knowledge of the northern weather systems can be the difference between a regular day working in the north and a situation where you can be stranded by a snowstorm.  Development of a thorough project safety plan with input from the local partner is the only way to prepare for the unknowns.


Bipole III Transmission Line Project, Northern Manitoba

Transmission Line construction projects ideally commence with the establishment of survey control along the project alignment, sometimes in remote locations.  The areas of the Manitoba-based Bipole III project we were originally involved with were particularly remote, spanning Thompson to The Pas, with very few communities in between.  Prior to any construction activity, access to the alignment involved selecting control locations from Google Earth and aerial photography and accessing via truck, snowmobile and helicopter.  Regardless of transportation method, a journey management plan outlining the point of access from a main road, the planned route and defined check-in times is the only way to enact an emergency response plan.  Equipping crews with two-way satellite communication allows for the relay of check-ins and any deviations of the original journey management plan to someone in close enough proximity to the project to respond in case of an emergency.


Pangnirtung and Kimmirut Airport UAV Surveys, Baffin Island, Nunavut

Our involvement in this project included a UAV survey and accompanying ground control in two remote villages on Baffin Island.  I immediately engaged the Senior Administrative Officer (SAO) from each community to enlist local assistance.  They were able to provide resources from the community for ATVs, boats, wildlife monitors and local guides.  With this added benefit to the local community, our team was well received and accommodated.  Interestingly enough, the most difficult piece of the project logistically was sourcing 10 cases of orange fluorescent spray paint and shipping them to Pangnirtung and Kimmirut with very short notice.  In the end, five cases were able to hitch a ride on an helicopter with our aviation team that was heading up for reconnaissance and the other five we shipped using a local company.  In the end, our team completed ~32km2 of UAV data acquisition for DEM and orthomosiac in 16 days and the results were spectacular.

Successful completion of remote projects will always prove challenging given the amount of variables to consider in each locale.  Managing these projects becomes more of a problem solving exercise and in most cases requires ingenuity and creativity to execute project plans.  I truly enjoy the challenge of working on remote projects with difficult logistics.  It is very rewarding to submit the project deliverables to our client knowing how much work and planning went into creating the final product. 

For more information on this topic, please contact Corey Doherty.