UPM Metsäni combines open forest data from the National Land Survey of Finland, Natural Resources Institute Finland and Finnish Forest Industries Federation into an app available to all forest owners.
The app shows general data about each owner's forests and gives suggestions for possible actions to take. It shows the location of the forest on the map and helps the owners to recognise the borders of their land while on site, as well as functioning as a compass. Its forest guide section offers useful information on forest-related matters, such as the wood trade or legal issues and taxation.
The app can be used to chat with UPM's forest specialists in real time and to send photos and video clips.
Forests combine thinking and feeling
The app was designed and created by Finnish Taiste Oy and UPM, with experts from various fields and forest owners making up the project team. You could say that Taiste brought the digital knowhow and service design to the project, while UPM provided the substance and goals, but the roles were not always this clear-cut. The main aim of the app is to make forest ownership simpler and easier.
“The design premise was that forests combine rational thinking and feelings, and we hope this comes through in the visual outlook and content of our service,” says Oscar Salonaho from Taiste.
When service designers, who are complete novices in all things forest-related, design a product aimed at forest owners, the result is an app that is genuinely easy to use.
“It has been extremely interesting to learn about the daily work of forest owners. We started out with practically no understanding of these things, and that made it easy for us to imagine how all this would feel to a new forest owner. The opportunity to look at the whole setup from outside proved a good starting point for the project,” explains Ville Kaisla from Taiste.
Paula Savonen from Marketing & Customer Support of UPM Wood Sourcing and Forestry appreciates the successful collaboration.
“We wanted to produce an interesting tool that is easy to use. We are happy with its initial reception, as users have found it easy and useful. People have also realised that openly accessible forest resource data exists and can be utilised in many ways. Your imagination is the only limit,” Savonen observes.
Better managed forests
The UPM Metsäni app encourages and hopefully motivates forest owners to manage their forests and become active in wood trade. It is also a good way to contact UPM's forest specialists easily and quickly.
“The app gives forest owners a couple of suggestions for action based on its analysis. The suggestions are only indicative and can be defined further with UPM's specialists,” Savonen adds.
Using the UPM Metsäni app requires no special skills or knowledge. Forest owners can get a forest evaluation by registering their name and email address on the app, but this information is not connected with their ID details or their code of holding. The evaluation produced by the service is only indicative, but can still be used for many purposes. However, a more accurate analysis taking into account silvicultural and wood trade-related aspects always requires a specialist.
A lot of feedback, please
Salonaho points out that digital services are, by their very nature, continuously evolving. Feedback is useful in that it both guides and motivates the design and possible further development work.
“What does the app feel like? What types of additional features would forest owners like to see added to it? We hope to get as much feedback as possible and appreciate and take each and every one into account.”
UPM's Paula Savonen is also following the events with keen interest.
“This work has been very interesting, and UPM wants to continue to promote the use of openly accessible forest resource data. We want to learn more and offer more services to forest owners, while ensuring the service remains simple and easy to use,” she concludes.
Photograph: Jaska Poikonen