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2 Posts authored by: KDonia-esristaff Employee

Workforce is designed for an office of dispatchers and a team of mobile workers in the field. The dispatchers create and assign the work, while the mobile workers complete it. Yet you might have mobile workers who notice work that needs to be done while they are in the field, and you want those mobile workers to be able to create assignments about what they see. Creating and assigning work from the mobile app is something on our roadmap, but it isn’t possible yet. However, you can bring Collector for ArcGIS into your solution and enable mobile workers to create assignments in the field today.


To get started, identify a Workforce project that requires mobile workers to have the ability to create assignments from the field. The Workforce project, as part of its creation, made some maps. However, those maps aren’t available in Collector. This is expected: Workforce maps are excluded from Collector. It would make it too easy for a mobile worker to accidentally edit assignments outside Workforce.


To opt-in to this workflow, we’ll create a view of the assignments for the mobile workers, make a map for use in Collector, give mobile workers access, and then create assignments using Collector. Let’s see how to set this up:


1. Create a view of the assignments layer

We’ve decided we want to allow access to our assignments in Collector, but we don’t want the user to have access to all the data. To limit the fields and types of data the mobile worker sees, create a hosted feature layer view from the assignments layer (view the item page for the assignments layer and click Create View Layer). Make sure to give it a unique, descriptive name to help you remember the target audience of this view. (For details, see Create hosted feature layer views - ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise)

NOTE: If you don’t want to limit the data the worker has access to, you don’t need to create a view of the layer. Skip this step and when creating the map add the assignments layer directly into the new map. In the map, configure the pop-up for the assignments layer the same way it is configured for the layer view here.

In your view, Set View Definition (use More Options  in the Visualization tab) to limit the data available to mobile workers:

  • Define Features to only include features with a status of “Unassigned”

  • Define Fields to only include the following fields: OBJECTID, Description, Status, Priority, Assignment Type, WorkOrder ID, Due Date, GlobalID, Location, CreationDate, Creator, EditDate, and Editor. Some of these are the fields the mobile worker needs to fill out when creating assignments, and when setting up the pop-up for the map you’ll leave these editable in Collector. The others are set for you by the ArcGIS platform and you’ll hide these when setting up the pop-up.
    Note: Your mobile workers might not need all the fields. You can choose to exclude Description, Priority, WorkOrder ID, and Due Date.


Still in the Visualization tab, Configure Pop-up  (which defines the editing experience in Collector):

  • Update the Pop-up Title to show information meaningful to workers creating assignments as this map is only for their use. For example, just use the assignment type: mobile workers might not always need to include a description so the default title wouldn’t have useful information.

  • Include only the following fields, and display them in this order (so that required fields are first): Assignment Type, Location, Description, Priority, Due Date, and WorkOrder ID. Uncheck both Display and Edit in Configure Attributes for each of the other fields to exclude them.

Update the pop-up by clicking OK at the bottom of the panel, and save your changes by clicking Save Layer.


In the Settings tab for the view, enable editing and configure editing permissions in the Feature Layer (hosted, view) Settings section:

  • In the Editing section, Enable editing.
  • Enable sync if your mobile workers need to create assignments while offline.
  • Under What kind of editing is allowed? accept the default of Add, update, and delete features.
  • Under What features can editors see? accept the default of Editors can see all features, as that could reduce the creation of duplicate assignments.
  • Under What features can editors edit? set Editors can only edit their own features.

Save your changes to the settings.


2. Create a map for Collector

On the Overview tab of your assignments layer view’s item page add the layer to a new map (use the drop-down menu for Open in Map Viewer and select Add to new map). Update your map as follows:

  • Rename the layer view to “assignments” in the Content pane.
  • Remove all the feature types and their templates other than the Unassigned feature type. The mobile workers won’t need to use them, and by removing them mobile workers won’t have to set a status and will always create unassigned assignments. To remove them, click Edit and click Manage at the bottom of the pane. Next to each feature type (other than Unassigned) click the arrow to open the menu and select Remove. Make sure to remove the feature type, and not just the templates under it, and to save your changes.
  • Include any other data in the map that the mobile workers might need to see to help them create assignments.
  • Make sure you aren’t using a vector basemap as those aren’t supported in Collector.
  • If your mobile workers need to be able to take the map offline and work without a data connection, you’ll need to make sure your map follows the guidelines for making offline maps for Collector.


3. Share the map with mobile workers

You need to share your new map and your layer view with the mobile workers who need to use them.


If you want all mobile workers in your Workforce project to be able to create assignments in Collector, share them with the group created with your Workforce project. Dispatchers in the project would also have access to the map in Collector: this may or may not be useful depending on your project.


If instead you want to provide only a subset of mobile workers with access to create assignments in Collector, create a new group (see how using either the ArcGIS Online or the ArcGIS Enterprise web site). Only add into the group mobile workers that you want using Collector to create assignments. After joining the group through the ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise website (or after an admin adds them without their need for approval), these mobile workers can access any content shared with the group. To give them access to the content they need to create assignments, share with the group the map you created for Collector, the layer view, and any other services used by the map.


4. Create assignments in Collector

The mobile worker can open the new map in Collector and create assignments. While they won’t be able to use all the validation and user integration included in the Workforce web app, they can create assignments. Some things to keep in mind:

  • The mobile worker will need to provide an Assignment Type and Location.
  • With the view and pop-up customization, they can’t set a dispatcher ID. That’s ok, as the mobile worker might not be a dispatcher. It will be set by Workforce when the assignment is assigned through the web app.
  • Need to include an attachment? Use the camera and attach as an image.
  • Be careful if deleting assignments: it is permanent and not the same as closing them.
  • You can use a feature and Collect here to create an assignment at that feature; however, the assignment’s location field won’t be prepopulated with the feature’s pop-up title as it is in the Workforce web app.


Now you’ve got your mobile workers contributing their field findings into Workforce: work they notice in the field is recorded and ready for assignment. The back office knows what needs to be done, and work is completed according to your staff’s workflow.

Wall-mounted maps have "You are here" bubbles, and our phones use a dot on the map to show current location. But those are clearly not determined the same way: a wall-mounted map always has the same location, while your phone moves about with you. And how your location is determined varies between devices and even app to app on a single device. To best understand the location information presented for mobile workers in Workforce (both our own as a mobile worker, those of other mobile workers, and those of our mobile workers when a dispatcher) we need to understand how location is determined in Workforce.


First, let's understand what the dispatcher is seeing. The location presented for each mobile worker is simply the location the mobile worker's device is passing to Workforce. Once we understand how the mobile device is handling the mobile worker's location, we'll also know how the location the dispatcher is seeing is determined. The only catch is that the location isn't updated for dispatchers continuously; instead, the mobile worker's device updates the mobile worker's current location every minute. This is the location displayed in the web app.


When a mobile worker sees the location of another mobile worker in the same project, their view of that other mobile worker's location aligns with that the dispatcher sees. While they are receiving the same information from the project, it might not exactly match the dispatcher's view. In addition to the offset introduced by mobile workers updating their location with the Workforce project every minute, the mobile worker reading the location is also only checking for updated locations every minute, so the position seen can be up to 2 minutes old.


Now let's look at the mobile worker and their device, as that is the key to all the locations. Workforce uses the location provided by the device's location services. What exactly that means depends on the device and its setup, but what we need to know is that location services determine position information from various sources, such as GPS, cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth networks. Here is a bit more detail into location services:

  • The location reported on the mobile device depends on the information available to the device. If your device doesn't have GPS, it uses a combination of cellular and wireless signals to determine your location. If your device also doesn't have GPS or cellular service, wireless signals are used. GPS generally provides the most accurate locations, after that Wi-Fi, then cellular.
  • A more accurate location means that its margin of error is less. Your position might be identical, but if you know you have 10 meter accuracy, you know you are likely within 10 meters of the location shown. If you have 30 meter accuracy, you know you are likely within 30 meters of the position shown. In Workforce, the blue circle around your position indicates the accuracy. In the image below, Workforce believes you are between the tree and the other mobile worker (green pin). However, you might be closer to the green dot, or you might be with the other mobile worker. But it is pretty sure you are inside the bigger blue circle.
    Workforce location accuracy
  • On Android, you can choose a mode for your location (High accuracyBattery savingDevice only). This changes what is used to calculate location. High accuracy (the default) uses GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular, and other available sensors through Google's Location service to get the highest-accuracy location. Battery saving doesn't use GPS, using only Wi-Fi and cellular through Google's Location service, saving battery. Device only uses only GPS, turning off Google's Location service. Changing this value affects the location you see in the app.


One last thing to understand about location services on iOS: they never provide an accuracy less than 5 meters. Even if you are using an external GPS with sub-meter accuracy, Workforce uses location services and while the position used could be more accurate, the accuracy reported will still be 5 meters, at best. You might notice this if you look at the historical tracks of where mobile workers have been.


A mobile worker will see their position updated continuously. However, as mentioned earlier, they don't update the Workforce project with the same frequency. The project is updated every minute. Additionally, if the mobile worker sets their status to On Break or Not Working, their location is not updated to the project at all until they return to Working. And if the mobile worker didn't set their status to On Break or Not Working before shutting down Workforce, the location the project has for them might be outdated and show them still working.


Got it, you might think. But then you open Collector, and see that your location has better accuracy than you are seeing in Workforce! What is going on here? Well, it actually isn't too complicated: Collector doesn't always use the device's location services, bypassing it for the information coming straight from the location sensor (such as an external GPS). Location services are limited in the accuracy that they'll report, even if the device is getting a better accuracy from the location sensor. Because accuracy is critical in data collection, Collector uses the most accurate information available. Workforce, on the other hand, doesn't have the same requirements, so uses the most easily accessed information.


Now you should understand how Workforce determines the location of mobile workers, what factors contribute to its accuracy, why it might vary between members of the same project, and why it might vary when using other apps. Now when you see worker location and it doesn't seem they are in the right place, yet the workers insist they are, you'll be able to figure out what it is you are actually seeing and how, if necessary to your project, to improve that information.