Mobile GIS & LBS
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.
Thoughts on Tablet and SmartPhone Field Data Collection
February 19th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan
We have spent a chunk of time focused on mobile data collection. Much of our work has leveraged Esri’s ArcGIS Online. In this post we thought it worth providing our thoughts on tablet and smartphone field data collection, based on our experiences.
Tablet and SmartPhone Field Data Collection
Esri’s mobile Collector we like. The two area which were problematic for us were the built in GIS workflows; the folks who are collecting the data are not GIS savvy and lack of disconnected or offline functionality. We ended up developing our own offline editing app.
These are some of our thoughts based on our experiences:
1) Devices – we found tablets (7″ and above) to be the best mobile hardware for data collection. The screen size on smartphones like the iPhone was a major limitation.
2) Data collected – point, line and polygon data, and image attachments. Having the ability to collect all GIS data types was important.
3) Internal GPS proved accurate enough for most use cases. We did use the external Ultimate GPS unit on iPads which helped provide higher accuracy (<2m).
4) All editing was done against feature services hosted in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Server. Using cloud based services helped simplify the data collection process.
5) Both offline and online editing capabilities were essential. Both in areas with no wi-fi and for those users without 3G/4G activated mobile devices.
6) We built validation into the app to provide a level of field QA/QC.
7) Pushing the data directly to ArcGIS Online made publishing data and retrieval easy. Retrieval of image attachments were somewhat problematic in Esri desktop products.
8) Lessons learned:
a) Offline is essential but adds an extra level of complexity to the app with basemaps stored locally etc.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions or thoughts.
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