Historically, GIS asset management systems have been dominated by enterprise solutions. These are large, complex systems, which often integrate with a third party GIS like ArcGIS from Esri. In recent times, there has been a growing demand for GIS asset management solutions which are more affordable, and easier to set up and use. Advances in software technology, including the release of new GIS and mapping services, has made the building of low cost, simple GIS asset management systems far easier.
Low Cost, Simple Mobile GIS Asset Management Systems for Local Government
We were approached earlier in 2015 by a group of small public municipalities who were looking for an affordable GIS asset management system. The requirement was for a single mobile GIS asset management app which could be used on any device – laptop, tablet, smartphone – whether in the office or the field. An application for managing utility assets which had the ability to update and synchronize the organizations central GIS or mapping system automatically. Key elements require included:
Are you wondering about Mobile GIS? Looking to improve how your field staff get their work done, looking to provide access to maps and GIS from any device and any mobile platform? In this article we will discuss some of the core elements of mobile GIS.
Mobile GIS Platform
Often a first question for those of us looking to use or build mobile GIS apps is: which mobile platform should we target – Apple, Android, Windows? At one time, this singular question was popular. We were focused on one platform, then often the popular choice was targeting Apple devices; the iPad and iPhone. But things are changing. The popularity of mobile devices means users have a mix of Apple, Android, and Windows devices. Cross-platform is increasingly the focus of today. That is mobile GIS apps which run on any device. Mobile Web GIS is one of the best cross-platform solutions. Ever more of our mobile development, as a company, is web focused for this reason.
I remember clearly the first music album I bought. Then we listened to vinyl LPS’s. I was 18, still living in England, and between school and University. The album was by The Tubes. One rather odd song stood out for me: What do you want from life?
At 18 it was a question I was beginning to ask myself. For me then my immediate focus was on geography. I never gave location or spatial a thought. Geography for me was about process. How was that wave cut platform formed? Intrigue over U shaped valleys. Marvelling at thunderstorms. On and on.
Mobiles are everywhere. Smartphones, tablets, even these new ‘somewhere in between’ phablets. They are cheap, come with amazing additions (GPS, camera, compass etc) and most importantly can be loaded up with an incredible assortment of apps. Go to the various app stores and the selection is amazing. Add to this those ever more popular Web apps, opened in your mobile browser, and things become almost overwhelming. Mobile technology has changed our world. Look around you and see how many people have their noses in a mobile.
GIS Transforming Data Collection
This post is focused on how location technologies like GIS in combination with mobiles are transforming how we gather and share data. We can split data collection into 3 distinct phases:
Canned, configurable, custom mobile GIS apps, where do I start? Its a good question. Let’s in this article break down your options.
Mobile GIS is Finally Here
Mobile GIS is taking off. Finally the crucial missing element of GIS is here. When we look back in time, Web based GIS became popular in the early 2000’s. The mobile revolution began with the release of the first smartphones and the iPad. Today mobile GIS apps are an important new enabling technology. Still the key question of any organization looking to provide field staff with mobile GIS is to answer the simple question: “To do what?”. As Bill Meehan says in his excellent article Mobile GIS? Never Heard Of It!.
“With mobile GIS, I could do all kinds of stuff: transformer inspections, pole inspections, damage assessment, customer surveys, staking, manhole cleaning, battery maintenance, meter testing, painting…” The list goes on! There may be hundreds of different workflows”
Defining use cases for mobile GIS is an important first step. Next is the right tool for the right job.