Earlier this year, the Allegheny County Department of Computer Services GIS Team and Esri worked together to build their Park Trails app, giving outdoors lovers an easy way to get the information they need to know before they head out to one of the county's nine parks. You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play and give it a try yourself!
The app was highlighted in an Esri Newsroom Article, and I encourage you to give it a read. It gets into the background of the project, interviews some of the key people involved, and some of the Esri technology that was used. In this blog post, I want to focus on the latter. What Esri technology is needed to create an app like this yourself? I'll walk you through the high-level workflow, and provide links to resources for some more detailed information. Let's build a park trails app!
1) Data Collection
Brian McBane, Allegheny County's GIS field collection specialist, created an inventory of all 200 miles of trails using high-accuracy Trimble GPS devices and Collector for ArcGIS, Esri's map-centric mobile data collection app. Collector for ArcGIS made it easy for Brian to collect point data for documenting the trails out in the field. Back in the office, Brian added the point data to ArcMap, Esri's long-standing desktop GIS application. He then used ArcMap's data management and editing tools to create a line feature class, moving from point to point to create trail lines.
2) Sharing Data and Creating Web Apps
For the public to access the trail data, Allegheny County shared its dataset publicly on ArcGIS Online, Esri's cloud-based mapping and analysis solution. They took it a step further by creating an app that displayed the trails using Web App Builder for ArcGIS (Developer Edition). The web app leveraged a custom Elevation Profile widget, created by Robert Scheitlin, GISP. For more details on how to configure and use this widget in your own web apps, click here.
Here's a link to the Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS application.
3) Moving to Mobile
The Web AppBuilder application was a good start, but users in remote areas with little/no cell coverage were unable to download the app, so the GIS team in conjunction with Esri Professional Services got to work on developing a mobile app. Melinda Angeles, Allegheny County GIS systems engineer, and Brooke Reams, a senior developer for Esri's geodata services, collaborated to build the app. Brooke Reams used AppStudio for ArcGIS, a suite of productivity tools for building and deploying native apps on Android, iOS, and many other platforms. With help from Kevin Gao, Esri UI/UX Designer, the app used the latest version of ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Qt to take advantage of the updated and modernized API. The GIS team also used ArcGIS Pro, Esri's next-generation desktop GIS application, to author and publish a custom basemap, and used ArcGIS Online to host the trails dataset and others used within the app.
4) Maintaining the Data and the App
When park rangers inform the GIS team of a planned trail closure, the GIS team edits the trails dataset in a relational geodatabase in ArcMap, overwriting the feature service's ArcGIS Online REST endpoint, a resource accessed by a URL. This workflow allows Allegheny County to update the trails in real-time without having to republish the entire app, and users can see these changes immediately!
GIVE IT A TRY!
Using your ArcGIS Hub community account, you can start exploring data, building maps and apps, and using some of our field data collection tools like Collector for ArcGIS. Esri Philadelphia has made this trails dataset from Montgomery County, PA's open data site available on our ArcGIS Hub site for you to get started. You can create a web map that can then be accessed in the Collector for ArcGIS field app, or you can build your own Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS app that can be accessed on any device! We look forward to seeing what great maps and apps you come up with!
For more information on Esri events, news, and resources from the Mid-Atlantic Region, please follow the Esri Philadelphia Regional Office Hub!