Q&A from Esri Mining User Group Webinar - Improving Workflows with Mobile Apps

Document created by MMartinez-esristaff Employee on Dec 2, 2016
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Q1.  Is Navigator now a fully released and supported product – rather than an Esri Labs R&D type product?

A1.  Jeff Shaner, Esri senior product manager – Yes. Navigator is a fully supported product. We released v2.0 of the iOS app in July of 2016 and this October released the Android version as well. Both support navigating against commercial StreetMaps as well as custom maps.


Q2.  Will Collector allow labels based on data from a related table?

A2.  Jeff – No. The current released version of Collector does not support labeling whatsoever. The limitation is based upon our use of the current ArcGIS Runtime SDKs for each of the platforms. Once we can port Collector on top of the new version of these ArcGIS Runtime SDKs (Runtime 100 update 1), you would then be able to label features. In the next update of ArcGIS Online you will be able to join a feature layer to a table as well. Once you do so, you could then label off of the joined table.


Q3.  You’ve clearly had a good deal of experience with these apps – how would you recommend someone get started with their mobile app strategy?

A3.  Debra Vian Brown, Freeport McMoRan Sr. GIS Analyst – I’ve found that the best way to get started is:

1) Understand the business requirements thoroughly.  Visit the site and take time to listen to the technicians or engineers.  What is the objective? What is their workflow?  What is the data flow?

2) Make a phase 1 mobile app.  Keep it simple for the first try and test it on a mobile device.  Follow the Esri tutorial.  Once you have a mobile app, take it to the site and walk the site team through it. Once they can visualize the app in action, they will have all sorts of ideas – you will have your requirements for the next release of the app.


Q4.  What do you think is the greatest business benefit for ‘going mobile’ in the field – time, efficiency?

A4.  Debra - Definitely efficiency.  Mobile apps remove manual processes that are prone to human error.  Errors mean that inspections need to be revisited.  An administrator must take time to determine the best course of action.  Many times that means that a field technician must physically travel to the inspection site again.  Also, don’t forget about audits.  Once a set of information is standardized for a mobile app, you have ready-made auditable information.  Quality assurance is done and no further action is required.


Q5.  I have some users testing Collector using the built-in GPS in their iPhone. They asked if the GPS accuracy was at all dependent on their cell signal since some parts of the mine have poor cell data coverage but they are clear for GPS signals. Any insights?

A5.  Jeff – It possibly can. By default, Collector uses the Location Services API with your smartphone to display and capture location. Time to fix is more important than accuracy for the Location Services API and location is acquired by any means (Wi-Fi, cellular, GPS). I have encountered problems where positions from the integrated receiver snap to the location of a geo-located Wi-Fi hotspot so you need to be careful using location this way. With version 10.4 of Collector we wrote our own Location Services API that reads GPS locations directly. To use GPS only, create a location provider within the settings of the Collector app.


Q6.  I used an early version of Survey123 and found that configuring the spreadsheet required a bit of programming savvy. Is the latest version more user friendly or do you still recommend having a well-trained user to setup?

A6.  Jeff – Yes. A lot has changed since the beta versions of Survey123 and it does not require any programming to configure your form or connect between the Survey123 app and your spreadsheet.


Q7.  Does high-accuracy GPS for Collector support geoid models for elevation?

A7.  Jeff – No. Collector supports horizontal datum transformations only at this time. However, if you are collecting point locations you can store the raw positions (including elevation) into attributes on your features and then apply a vertical transformation when synchronized back to the office. Please refer to the ProjectZ model available in our GitHub scripts for more details.


Q8.  Is Network Analyst required to prepare a custom road network for packaging in Navigator?

A8.  Yes. If you choose to customize the transportation network, you will need to use Network Analyst to build the transportation network that you have modified.


Q9.  When taking data offline in Collector have you had problems syncing the data? If so, what have you done to overcome those errors?

A9.  Debra – We’ve had a lot of experience with Collector.  Here are a few issues and things to try if you are having trouble syncing. 

1) Weak Wi-Fi – If your Wi-Fi is too weak, Collector will not sync.  Find a hot spot where you know you have had success in the past.  Have your IT staff assist if needed. 

2) Power down and up the mobile device then reconnect to your Wi-Fi.  This will free up memory which may help. 

3) Be sure you are connected to Wi-Fi.  Some devices say you are connected but you are not and you should explicitly disconnected then reconnect.

4) If you have attachments enabled for your feature service and are capturing photos, be sure that you lower the photo resolution on your mobile device.  You may have trouble syncing if photos are quite large. 

5) If you have not used the Collector on a particular device for a while, you may want to uninstall/re-install Collector.  This doesn’t take long and is worth the effort.


Jeff – Great advice from Debra above. Quite often you will find that when Sync fails it is because you are in a low-bandwidth environment. It is important to note that by default the Sync behavior is bi-directional meaning that it will upload changes that are on your mobile device and then look for edits within the work area that you downloaded and pull down any changes. That can amount to a large volume of data. We have made several optimizations to consider here. As Debra mentions, try to reduce the size of photos. Photos are by far the largest amount of data that you will synchronize. Second, there is a setting within Collector called “Push Only”. If you turn this setting on, synchronization will only upload your changes and not download other changes. Finally look at the advanced synchronization settings for your feature service. You can modify these settings based upon the type of work you do. For example, you can change the download behavior so that it only pulls down features but not attachments. All of these settings can dramatically improve the quality of synchronization.


Q10.  In our organization, one of the capabilities we are looking to include is a way to collect and integrate geological boring data from the field with our geodatabase in the office in order to store and analyze these borings in a more efficient way. Can you imagine a situation utilizing any of these products that would allow for integration of boring location and attributes collected in the field with a GIS database back at the office?

A10.  Jeff – This sounds like an interesting workflow and would depend upon how you would capture and model geologic boring data. If the data capture demands an advanced form, I would recommend using Survey123 for the collection of data. It will capture a point using your GPS along with your form content into a feature service. A number of organizations are then using python scripts or GeoEvent Server to normalize/manipulate the data captured by Survey123 and store it within other feature layers.   


Q11.  Trek2There looks like it has a lot of potential for navigating to points off-road. is there a plan to move this from an ESRI Labs product to a full release?

A11.  Trek2There is an Esri Labs product. Some Esri Labs products do turn into supported products and Survey123 was a good example of this. Others proof out new capabilities that would be incorporated into existing products. Trek2There is a good example of the latter. The capabilities of compass/bearing navigation need to exist in all of our map-centric mobile apps and not require that you use a separate app. With Trek2There a part of Esri Labs we can gather valuable feedback on its popularity and use before adding these capabilities in supported product.


Q12.  Will representations be supported in collector in the future?

A12.  Jeff – If by representations you are meaning “Cartographic Representations”, we do not support these today. However, the next major releases of our mobile apps will be built on top of the latest released ArcGIS Runtime SDKs and these SDKs support advanced symbology that can approximate cartographic representations. If this was a typo and you meant to say relationships, Collector supports these today.



Product Links

Workforce for ArcGIS

Documentation Website – http://doc.arcgis.com/en/workforce/

GitHub Scripts - https://github.com/Esri/workforce-scripts

Geonet Site – https://community.esri.com/groups/workforce-for-arcgis

Current Beta – https://earlyadopter.esri.com/callout/?callid=%7BC1A459BF-D8F6-4179-A747-E8423AA50989%7D


Navigator for ArcGIS

Documentation Website – http://doc.arcgis.com/en/navigator/

Geonet Site – https://community.esri.com/groups/navigator

Github Scripts - https://github.com/Esri/navigator-integration


Collector for ArcGIS

Documentation Website – http://doc.arcgis.com/en/collector/

Geonet Site – https://community.esri.com/community/gis/applications/collector-for-arcgis

Github Scripts - https://github.com/Esri/collector-integration, https://github.com/Esri/collector-tools


Survey123 for ArcGIS

Documentation Website – http://doc.arcgis.com/en/survey123/

Geonet Site – https://community.esri.com/groups/survey123


Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS

Documentation Website – http://doc.arcgis.com/en/operations-dashboard/

Geonet Site – https://community.esri.com/community/gis/applications/operations-dashboard-for-arcgis

Current Beta – https://earlyadopter.esri.com/callout/?callid={0EE9717B-7EDD-4468-8D02-DACF3E0E8810}


Explorer for ArcGIS

Documentation Website – http://doc.arcgis.com/en/explorer/

Geonet Site – https://community.esri.com/community/gis/applications/explorer-for-arcgis/