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 Mobile GIS & LBS
Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
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.

4 Popular Uses of Mobile GIS

March 3rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

As a mobile GIS development company we have had many fascinating conversations with clients, and built some very cool apps. We thought it might be interesting to look back at our experiences and list 4 popular uses of Mobile GIS.

Disaster Management and Assessment

Time is of the essence when managing disasters. Both providing relief to affected communities quickly, then following up with assessment and help with rebuilding. Mobile GIS has become a very important tool used by NGO’s and public safety departments.

We wrote last year about work we were doing with Monroe County. They were looking into improving their pen, paper and spreadsheet based approach to disaster assessment. Providing iPad’s to non-GIS trained Red Cross volunteers, loaded with a simple to use GIS app, was the goal of the work. The mobile GIS app built by WebMapSolutions allowed these volunteers to view interactive maps, collect data, share and collaborate while on site. The data resulting from the field reporting was quickly provided to state officials as an interactive Web map which was easy to understand, showed damage information at a parcel level, and helped with discerning patterns. This Web map approach has dramatically helped the decision making process, allowing for fast turnaround of relief funds.

Mobile GIS provides a new way to improve the reaction time, analysis and reporting required to effectively manage disasters. Critically it may help save lives.

Real Estate Site Analytics

Today real estate agents use their mobile device’s largely for routing: I have 10 properties to visit today how do I get from one to the next? Imagine if agents could pull out their iPad or iPhone and view information dynamically about the area surrounding a property.

One of our clients in the commercial real estate sector wanted to use their iPad to generate accurate current demographic data when showing potential properties to clients. Specifically:

What are the demographics of an area within a 1 mile radius or more of this property?

Show me on a map drive time information from this location?

Let me produce a report from the data generated.

We built a mobile GIS app which provided these capabilities. This has started us on a journey with this client, evolving this application and building complementary solutions. A suite of new mobile tools for both brokers and agents to help make those sales.

Retail GeoMarketing

Try a Google search using the term GeoMarketing. A staggering index of pages is returned. Had you tried the same search 3 years ago, the results would have been quite different. There is a huge amount of buzz around location based marketing. So called geotriggers are a key new technology which provides the capability to communicate with users based on their location.

WebMapSolutions are in discussion with a number of ski resorts around the use of geotriggers. To alert skiers if they have strayed out of bounds, provide automatic information on expected wait at mountain restaurants as skiers approach, supply updated information on ski lift lines in the vicinity to help avoid overcrowding.

Geotriggers provide a wealth of exciting new opportunities to interact with users based on their changing location.

Online & Offline Data Collection

Mobile data collection using GIS has become very popular. Both adding new data, and editing existing. But what use is mobile GIS without an offline capability? This has been asked by many of our clients over the last few years.

Losing wi-fi connectivity in remote areas is common. In cities too there are dead spots. Many low end tablets have no 3G or 4G connectivity. The need for good mobile offline capabilities is essential.

At WebMapSolutions we took the bull by the horns and built our own online offline mobile GIS data collection and editing solution. The app is available in both the Apple Store and Google Play. We are now working with a wide range of clients across the globe who have online and offline data collection needs. These conversations include:

– Waste water utility in New Zealand who need to edit point, line and polygon data in disconnected mode using Android tablets.
– Engineering company in Australia who need to be able to visualize the route of proposed new pipelines, and view attributes, in remote areas.
– Environmental agency in the UK who need a data collection solution to help with disaster assessment related to the recent flooding in the country, and require online and offline feature image attachments.

We are providing our base offline editing mobile GIS product to clients. In addition, we are extending the application to provide advanced offline capabilities such as reporting and map annotation.

Are you planning a mobile GIS implementation? Drop us a line and let us know more.

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Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, Mobile ArcGIS, Web and mobile GIS

2 Responses to “4 Popular Uses of Mobile GIS”

  1. Kamal says:

    I am kamal working as a research scientist in ISRO,India. Could you please elaborate the offline capabilities like limitations,features and etc.

  2. Carl Reed says:

    Matt –

    Interesting and informative. Thanks

    The reader might also be interested in the new OGC GeoPackage standard. OGC’s GeoPackage, an open standard based on the widely used free and open source SQLite database, gives mainstream application developers an easy mechanism for accessing both GIS data and raster data in a format that can be used directly by mobile devices such as smartphones.


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