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Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

iPad ArcGIS Online Editing and Annotation App

Monday, March 18th, 2013

We have extended our ArcGIS Online Editing mobile app, to include annotation. Below is a demo of the functionality using the draw widget ported from the Flex Viewer for ArcGIS running on an iPad:

Contact us for more information.

Connected Disconnected Mobile ArcGIS Online for Disaster Management

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Disaster management demands rapid response, and careful coordination of workers in the field. Mobile technology has the potential to provide important tools to first responders to help mitigate the effects of disasters. Working with a county in the state of Michigan, we have been investigating the use is iOS and Android devices in combination with ArcGIS Online to help improve disaster management efforts.

Disaster Management Today Relies on Pen and Paper

Over the last few years there have been an increasing number of tornadoes and floods causing considerable damage in Michigan. An important requirement of many county GIS departments, often with help from the Red Cross, is to quickly record damage and report findings to State authorities to then provide funding and assistance. Field workers are sent out to affected areas with parcel maps. Notes are made parcel by parcel on level of damage, often home owners are interviewed. Once back in the office this data is collated and assembled in a spreadsheet and emailed to the State. This represents a labor intensive effort under considerable time pressure.

The Use of Mobile Apps for Disaster Management

Mobile technology in combination with the cloud, have the potential to dramatically improve the efficiency and reduce the effort required in managing disasters. We were asked to investigate the use of tablets as disaster management tools; a mobile ArcGIS Online app which uses both onboard GPS and camera, to collect and report levels of damage. The app needed to work in both connected and disconnected modes.

Disaster Management Mobile App Set Up

We’ve been building a mobile app framework which provides both online and offline functionality. We took this framework and adapted it for the disaster management requirements.

Figure 1: Base Map Layer Package Source in ArcMap 10.1

Our first step was to open ArcMap 10.1 and generate two base map sources:

1) A tile package or TPK for the offline basemap

Figure 2: Tile Package Generation in ArcMap 10.1 for Offline BaseMap

2) A tiled base layer based on a layer package (.lpk file) for an online base map.

Figure 3: ArcGIS Online Hosted Tiled Service Publishing from ArcMap 10.1 for Online BaseMap

Next we published an editable hosted feature service in ArcGIS Online. In our case we made some edits to the attributes of the shapefile and added two field (damage level, and comments) before publishing.

Figure 4: ArcGIS Online Hosted Feature Service Preparation & Publishing from ArcMap 10.1

In each case above the data needed to be in a Web Mercator projection which is the default for ArcGIS Online. Another point worth mention is that ArcGIS Online at present only supports 1000 features, so shapefiles with more than this number of features cannot be published as hosted feature services. We will revisit this topic in due course.

The hosted feature service needs setting up as we describe in the following blog post >a href=””>

Now our interest is only editing certain attributes. Though we do wish to see all attributes in non-edit mode, when in edit mode it would be nice to only list these editable fields. In ArcGIS Online when we view the hosted feature service, we can open the ‘Configure Pop Ups’ option and set only those attributes we wish to edit as visible. Perfect. But alas not, this filter only applies in the web interface and not what is passed to the mobile app.

Figure 5: ArcGIS Online Hosted Feature Service Configure Pop Ups

After successfully publishing and configuring the services, we then combined the published tiled basemap and hosted feature service as a single web map.

Figure 6: ArcGIS Online Web Map

Offline ArcGIS Online Editing

So good, to summarise we have publshed three services to ArcGIS Online:

1) Hosted Tiled basemap
2) Hosted Feature layer
3) A Web map which combines the above two services.

Next it is time to think about offline. The tpk we generated earlier is in essence a zip file. We need to copy this to the mobile tablet. In the case of Android this is a drag and drop copy operation. For iOS it is done through iTunes. Next we set the configuration file. Given the general theme of this, as with all our mobile work, is to build a mobile app which:

1) Provides focused functionality – here connected/disconnected editing
2) Is configurable meaning the UI can be altered without need for a developer and recompiling.
3) Is flexible such that users can switch the web map loaded and ArcGIS Online account used.

The configuration file is a key element, providing maximum flexibility.

Figure 7: ArcGIS Online Mobile App Configuration File

This file, like the tpk, is copied to the device. And is read each time the application loads.

Connected Disconnected ArcGIS Online Editing Demo

Connected Disconnected ArcGIS Online Editing Thoughts

The 1000 feature limit in ArcGIS Online hosted feature service we mentioned earlier is both a problem and solution for this application. A problem since we often have source geodata containing many more than 1000 features. But we will never need more than 1000 features visible at any one time to edit, plus more than 1000 feature layer features will degrade the performance of the mobile application; zoom and pan will become increasingly more challenging. So what is our best compromise? In this case id we have more 1000 features and an ArcGIS server instance, we publish the full dataset to server, BUT only publish a subset of this data in ArcGIS Online. This subset would be the extent of the data published, so the area and features being edited that day or by that group of field workers.

Mobile ArcGIS Online Editing Conclusion

There are many potential applications of this technology in disaster management and assessment. Mobile apps such a the one described will prove important to local and state governments, the insurance industry and other key sectors and organisations. For more information about our work in this area contact us at

Mobile ArcGIS – Auto Feature Generation Using GPS

Thursday, February 7th, 2013


We always like a good challenge. More than once in the last few weeks we have been asked if it is possible to auto generate features – points, lines, polygons – on a mobile device using GPS. So store the path followed using the built in mobile GPS. Then generate a feature from this data. We put our thinking caps on and came up the application you see in the video below

The demo shows the app running on an Android tablet in offline mode. This could just as easily have been an iPad; since we built the app using Mobile Flex which can run on either platform. We first generated a tile package in ArcMap, this forms the offline basemap and is stored on the tablet. Checkboxes in the top left header allow users to select either polygon or line as the final generated feature. Start and stop buttons initiate data collection, and generate the final feature respectively. In the demo we drove around a block; starting and finishing at the same point, so we chose to generate a polygon.


ArcGIS Online Brings Simplicity

Monday, January 28th, 2013


We’ve spent some time on this blog discussing ArcGIS Online. As we have said, we see this new mapping platform as a major step forward. But detailed discussion of the advantages misses the most central point; ArcGIS Online brings simplicity. Users, organisations, developers all will benefit. We thought is worthwhile discussing areas we see ArcGIS Online simplifying:

Organizing, Administering and Sharing Geo-Data with ArcGIS Online within Organizations

1) Groups and users – Online offers a slew of ways to organise data into groups, and share with a specific group of users. If your data is confidential, then host Online behind your firewall.

2) Data Conversion – We are often approached with questions around mobile apps which allow both access to and editing of shapefiles. Sure it can be done, but there is much time and effort needed to achieve, what we often think is a less than perfect solution. With ArcGIS Online shapefiles are converted to interactive feature layers. If these are generated as hosted feature layers, editing is now possible.


Web versus Installed Mobile Apps in ArcGIS Online

Thursday, January 17th, 2013


Wanted to follow up on a recent post we wrote on hosted Web apps for ArcGIS Online.

As we pointed out in the article these new Javascript web app templates are terrific. They are integrated into ArcGIS Online, and allow for the building of targeted Web apps, for multiple use (GIS and non-GIS). Further, once built, these apps can be configured by ArcGIS Online admins without the need for a developer. Mobile templates are also in the works. Now these are web apps, so online browser based applications. What if we need an installed mobile application?


Mobile ArcGIS Online – Adding Attachments when Offline

Sunday, January 6th, 2013


Our work with mobile ArcGIS Online and disconnected or offline mode continues. The most recent addition we made to the mobile app was attachments. Those clever people at Esri have integrated attachments – images, video, audio – into feature layers/services. A very nice integration given mobile devices ability to capture photos, videos and audio. So we can use the camera on the mobile device for example, to take a picture of feature and attach that to what is stored in the ArcGIS service for that feature. Adding this functionality while in online mode we discussed in our last post. Doing the same while offline was a little more tricky. But after some late nights we managed to add offline attachments to the app. The demo below shows this in action:

Mobile ArcGIS – Demo of Adding Attachments when Offline


Mobile App Demo: ArcGIS Online Editing with Photo Attachments

Monday, December 31st, 2012


We’ve just made some updates to our online/offline mobile editing app. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the ability to attach photos, audio files and video to a feature are all now possible in ArcGIS Online. After setting up the hosted Feature Service in ArcGIS Online and enabling attachments, we extended our mobile editing app to include that functionality. See the demo below:

Attaching Images to ArcGIS Online Features on an Android Tablet


Offline Mobile Editing Santa Clara ArcGIS Data

Monday, December 31st, 2012

We continue our work with mobile online and offline editing. At present our focus is on ArcGIS data in Santa Clara, California. Now editable ArcGIS data needs to served as feature layers from a Feature Server. Data which is served from a MapServer instance of ArcGIS server is largely for visualization. In the video below we have set up a web map in ArcGIS Online. We have published to this web map MapServer data served by ArcGIS Server, and an editable feature service hosted from ArcGIS Online. So a combination of editable and non-editable layers. The video shows the web map running in our mobile app on an Android tablet. We demonstrate editing layers in offline mode, then updating the hosted feature service when back online:


Mobile ArcGIS Online Editing for Transportation

Sunday, December 30th, 2012


We were impressed by the work UDOT are doing with ArcGIS Online. It was great to see them presenting at the Esri User Conference in 2012. Their effort forms a part of the AASHTO initiative.

We’ve been working closely with Region 6 of the Idaho Transportation Dept, developing a mobile application which will form part of their IPLAN project. So transportation is an important part of our own work with mobile and ArcGIS Online. One of our key areas of focus has been to build mobile apps which provide the ability to visualize ArcGIS Online web maps and edit layers in both online and offline modes. We thought it might be interesting to test data from UDOT in a mobile editing application. In this example we focused on milepost data.

Below we walk through the simple steps to use this data. We include first a video of the running application:


Free ArcGIS Online Mobile Offline Editing App

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012


Mobile offline editing is something we have written much about. It is also the most common request we receive. We have had in our minds the idea to release a demo version of the application we have shown in many videos. So here we post that mobile app.

This downloadable release is for use on an Android tablet. The application can also be run on an iPad, contact us for more information. Before installing the mobile ArcGIS Online app, please watch the video below which shows the various workflows:


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