Epidemiological surveillance in the future will probably be collective through sharing information. Platform.garden has created a smartphone app dedicated to monitoring green spaces to help professionals apply French laws banning herbicides and detect and cure threats to their greens and gardens. It won 1st prize in the Paysalia Innovation Trophy Awards contest in 2021. Platform.garden founder Arnaud DUGAST explains.
Platform.garden innovation featured in Paysalia 2021
© Nicolas Rodet
Let’s start by summarizing the innovation you presented at Paysalia 2021. What does it do?
Arnaud DUGAST: Platform.garden is a free smartphone application we created in 2019 for green space professionals. In a single place, you can find all the essential tools you need – pest watch and vigilance, product information and digital format catalogs plus sector news. Jardi'Alerte is one brick in this overall digital solution. It is a digital epidemiological surveillance tool to visualize and declare every kind of bio-pest and with it, we won 1st prize in the Paysalia Innovations Awards 2021.
Paysalia Innovations Awards
Organized by Unep, these trophies reward innovative products and technologies created by companies marketing to professional landscapers to meet the needs of today - and tomorrow. They are awarded every two years at the Paysalia trade show.
What gave you the idea to create this smartphone application?
The prohibition of pesticides radically changed the way the landscape sector had to work. Green space professionals can no longer use the old methods. We wanted to assist them in this transition and give them solutions for working without pesticides.
The backbone of your solution is the epidemiologic surveillance system Jardi’Alerte. How does it work?
Our system is based on inputs from two sources – computer databases to calculate risks and the centralization of alerts published by members.
We use these data to create a predictive model to assess the probability of the appearance of a bio-threat on a scale of 1 to 100. This means that users can decide if the risk of a disease developing in their green spaces is a more or less likely – just like a weather forecast. We use our HORTEE connected probes to collect more data and make our calculations more precise.
Arnaud DUGAST presents the app and HORTEE connected probe
We also propose our community-based “Waze of the garden” function on which each professional can post alarms and consult alarms emanating from other professionals in their region. To encourage a maximum of professionals to input their observations to Jardi'Alerte, all these functions are free.
In addition to using data analysis and alarms to predict threats and risks, how else do you help professionals apply pesticides-free maintenance?
As a platform we create links between the laws, professionals in the field and suppliers. Ideally, suppliers then adapt their advice to events or risks communicated in an ultra-targeted way by the application to the professionals the most concerned. Consequently, professionals in the field are then guided and assisted in total respect of the law.
Screenshots of the Platform.Garden app
The “bio-alternative” product spectrum effectiveness is smaller than for chemical products. This is why it is vital to optimize all the agronomic, sanitary and weather parameters so as to apply the right product at the right time. In this context, our digital platform and our algorithms will be “must” aids in the years to come.
For example, it is pointless to use pheromone treatments against insects if the males and females have already mated. Our application creates a full digital link to advise on the choice of the most suitable solutions and the best moments to use them.
What is the Platform.garden business model?
As our corporate statutes state, we exist to promote the use of pesticide-free maintenance alternatives in France and provide a 100% free version of our application so all landscaping professionals can use our plant health monitoring tools.
But we are also a private company and must, of course, find a financial balance. For this reason, we also propose to reference providers’ products, their consultation services and also give landscape gardening and sports field companies the possibility to integrate a team and provide personalized statistics, plus the possibility of integrating data from our sensors. These opportunities are sold as subscriptions.
Aperçus de l'application Platform.Garden
We hope that providers will see in these innovations a modern way to propose their products and reduce the use of printed paper catalogs. Our research shows that most professionals prefer digital access to products on a single platform. It is a challenge, and, as I like to point out, we are a 100% French company and no other solution providing the same services exists to date anywhere else in the world.
What is your primary target group and how do you hope to expand your membership?
For the moment our users are basically green keepers and landscape designers. We are supported by the French professional organization Unep.
We have close to 1,800 members and our objective is to reach 5,000 by the end of 2022 and 15,000 members in the long term. To attract more members committed to epidemiological surveillance, we organize contests, score the participants, etc. We registered 700 declarations on Jardi’Alerte in 2021.
The fight against invasive species must be collective – an opinion shared by Bioline Agroscience which won a Paysalia Innovations Trophy in 2017.
You won 1st prize in the Paysalia Innovations Awards. How did that affect your business?
We attracted a host of new members and brands wanting to promote their products and services via our solution. Platform.garden was recognized by the profession at Paysalia 2021, and we attracted a lot of visitors. We have even been asked to deploy our solution in Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, and England! This prize enabled us to obtain regional subsidies and attract the interest of financiers to accompany us in extending our mission.
All in all, the impact was ultra-positive!
Our thanks to Platform.garden founder Arnaud Dugast
© Photos credits: Platform.Garden