I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog that we are big fans of the new cloud based approach to GIS (WebGIS). As Bill Meehan at Esri describes, connecting desktop, Web and mobile apps via your central GIS cloud based hub provides access, awareness and analysis. Moving from server to platform has many advantages. Its transforming GIS.
But today, the reality is that we live in a world of mixed technologies. Esri users have one or a combination of ArcGIS Server, Online, Portal. Web applications tend to be tied to these respective solutions. At WebMapSolutions we have been giving this considerable thought.
I hear this question all the time: why is my mobile GIS app so SLOW? Whether simply loading a map, trying to edit features on the map, or routing; mobile GIS apps can be maddeningly slow. More than maddening, this slowness can actually get in the way of getting work done!
In this post we will discuss the cause and solutions to mobile GIS app slowness.
So what is the cause of mobile GIS app slowness?
For mobile GIS there are two primary causes:
1) Poor wireless connectivity – In both remote and populated areas wireless reception can be very variable. Take a look at the wireless signal bars on your smartphone or tablet. You will see changes in signal strength as you move. The weaker the signal the longer it will take for your mobile GIS app to load or return results. Sometimes you will wait and wait and the application fails. Very frustrating.
2) Loading a large number of features – If you are using a mobile GIS app which loads tens of thousand of features eg points representing water valves, your application will likely be impacted. Often that means a poor performing app. You are taxing the resources of your smartphone or tablet.
So two core reasons for mobile GIS app slowness: wireless connectivity and feature overload. (more…)
When you have time this holiday season pop into Best Buy. Wander into their laptop section and be prepared for a surprise: 80% of all laptops on sale are 2 in 1 hybrids.
What is a 2-in-1 hybrid? They combine the features of a laptop and tablet into a single device. So one device which provides the best of both worlds. Hybrid laptops are having a huge impact on the computer market. The the 2-in-1 segment will see shipments worldwide jump 86.5% in 2015. These new devices will dramatically affect mobile GIS in 2016 and beyond.
The Evolution of Mobile GIS
Let’s step back for a second. Laptop and PC sales have been in decline for a number of years, as mobile devices have become increasingly more popular. Consumers were the first to jump in, replacing their (clunky) home computers with new, portable, easy to use smartphones and tablets. Society is being transformed by mobile; always connected is today’s mantra.
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.
So … custom cross platform mobile GIS apps are expensive?
They certainly can be. Let’s imagine you would like a custom version of Collector for ArcGIS. Maybe you want a tool which is not provided by Collector. Lets say custom forms. iFormBuider won’t cut it. You need something for your unique workflows. Since you have a field team who use Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices (that means smartphone and tablets) you need a cross platform solution. What do you do?
More than likely you turn to a GIS development company like ours. You’ll ask us, if such a custom app is possible. And most importantly how much it might cost?
Many organizations are now considering mobile GIS. Much of this is a move to efficiency, to get out of the traditional cycle: collect field data on paper, submit this to a GIS specialists, who then enters this into a GIS. Mobile GIS means field data can be uploaded directly from the field to the GIS.
So what needs to be considered when adopting mobile GIS technology? We’ve been developing and implementing mobile GIS solutions for a number of years. As we have found, mobile GIS implementations are not straightforward. Careful consideration, planning and preparation is needed. In this post we share 7 key areas to consider when moving to mobile GIS.
In this post we discuss 5 powerful new ways mobile GIS can help your organization.
No more Pen and Paper
A better title here might have been ‘replacing outmoded inefficient work practices’. Still much work done in the field relies on pen and paper; notes, paper maps, forms and documents. Today we can use smartphone and tablets to store all information in one place in a digital format. Digital format I hear you say? A format which allows us to push all your data into a central computer system. No more pulling together notes made in the field and generating spreadsheets, or requiring data entry folk to take your paper documents and transpose that data into the central data system. Cut out the middle man, upload all your field recorded data directly into the system yourself via your smartphone or iPad.
Do I hear you say more efficient?
If the data has a location component, which is most of the time, we can record current GPS location, maybe do reverse geo-coding to convert a GPS point to an address. Tying GIS into this system then provides the spatial analysis and visualization component. Our recent blog post talks more about replacing pen and paper with mobile technology
We noted in the original post that without knowing who the list of experts who contributed to the paper were, we were a little hesitant. We do know that Peter Batty added his thoughts. A good guy, but somebody who still talks about, the rather controversial, neoGeography or “new geography”.
Anyway, we digress. After reading the paper a number of times, we felt a little. Well. Deflated. We regard the new world of location technology as very exciting. The paper made for some dry reading; ok it was for the UN and not meant to have us all jumping for joy. But we hoped for a realistic, useful reflection on where the geospatial world is moving. Too much felt like wild guesses, repetition of the obvious, and the unimportant. Ok, we are being harsh, but this is a panel of experts. We expected some expert insight.
Our previous blog entry showed the initial steps in working with mobile ArcGIS when offline. We ended the post with “whats next? Offline Feature layers and Offline editing”. And that is the topic of this blog post.
As we have mentioned before as a company our focus is mobile location technology. GIS, and specifically ArcGIS, is an important part of this work. We are also advocates of open source software. Now the so called ‘elephant in the room’ of mobile GIS is offline. Everybody wants it, but there remains no practical solution. Both ESRI and Google have discussed rolling out offline solutions. But nothing is yet in place, at least in published API’s.
We are regularly approached about disconnected mobile maps and offline GIS. Its an itch we started to scratch a while ago. Our goal was initially to put in place a solution in the ArcGIS world, upon which we could also base an open source solution. ESRI, and in particular Mansour Raad, have been a big help in moving this work forward. We now have an end to end solution for working with mobile ArcGIS while offline.
Before we describe the work, here is a video which shows an ArcGIS Online webmap being takes offline; that is basemap, feature layers and editing.