Posted by Brett Brooking on Mar 07, 2019
When you deliver over 5000 plants in 3 days, navigation is critical!
In recognition of his assistance to the Rotary Club of West Ottawa, this week Geir Engdahl of Norway was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship.  The awards ceremony was performed at the Oslo International Rotary Club with club President Robert Laan presenting the award and reading the citation.
OIRC President Robert Laan presents Geir Engdahl with his Paul Harris Fellowship
Read on to find out how Geir's software helped enable teams of volunteers to organize the delivery of over 5600 chrysanthemums for RCWO's annual Mums for Thanksgiving fundraiser.

When Canadian Thanksgiving approaches for the Rotary Club of West Ottawa, so does their largest fundraiser.  Mums for Thanksgiving has been a successful fundraiser for the club for 23 years.  Members of the club and many partner organizations sell chrysanthemums to be delivered a week before Thanksgiving.  The fundraiser is large in scope with thousands and thousands of "mums" to be delivered in a only a few days.  This means organizing dozens and dozens of teams of delivery volunteers.  Their deliveries are divided into more than 150 routes and each route has to be carefully crafted to maintain the efficiency of the delivery teams. 
There was a time when all of the routing was done the old fashioned way.  Deliveries were organized by postal code and each team spent a long time pouring over paper maps of the city plotting out how to navigate the addresses.  But as the deliveries grew into the thousands, this method became too time consuming and the club had to modernize the system.
Enter Optimap.  A free website created by Geir Engdahl of Norway in his spare time, Optimap enabled the user to import a route of addresses and have the software calculate the most efficient navigation of the route.  The software would then export a list of turn-by-turn directions for the delivery team to follow or allow the team to download the route into their digital navigation device.
Screen capture of an Optimap route
Suddenly, what was a labourious task becomes efficient and optimized!  The website enabled the Mums for Thanksgiving planning team to provide each delivery team with a preplanned route for their deliveries.  This ensured delivery teams were not spending precious delivery time on mapping.  They could receive their route, load their plants and start delivering immediately.  The Optimap system also allows for the most efficient delivery of the mums.  RCWO is conscious of the environmental impact of delivering flowers to thousands of addresses and Optimap ensures the time on the road is reduced to a minimum.
All of these improvements to efficiency have helped allow the RCWO to grow the Mums for Thanksgiving fundraiser and raise more funds for their local and International work as well as the work of their valuable partners. 
In recognition of the contribution of Geir to the success of the fundraiser, this past Wednesday, March 6, 2019 the Oslo International Rotary Club presented Geir Engdahl with a Paul Harris Fellowship on behalf of the Rotary Club of West Ottawa.  The following text was read at the awards presentation ceremony.
In Canada’s capital city, for more than twenty years, the Rotary Club of West
Ottawa has delivered flowers—chrysanthemums—a week before the country’s
annual celebration of Thanksgiving. Businesses and individuals pay the Rotary
Club to buy and to deliver some 5000 or more chrysanthemums—each one in its
own flower pot—to their special clients and loved ones. This annual effort is a
fundraiser for humanitarian projects in various communities, such as providing
drinkable water to a village in Kenya.
For the past three years, the Club has used Optimap software to create efficient
driving routes for delivery of the flowers. The use of Optimap has saved hundreds
of hours of volunteer effort in each of those three years. In fact, its use may have
made those fundraisers possible. That is why Mr. Geir Engdahl, the developer of
Optimap, is to be presented today with an internationally recognized award
named after the founder of Rotary, Paul Harris.
Mr. Engdahl, you have made an outstanding contribution to humanitarian work.
Indeed, your actions suggest that you may be a Rotarian at heart. Please come
forward to accept Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award.