Offline Mobile GIS Data Collection and Editing Made Easy

Blog Post created by webmapsolutions on Sep 8, 2014

Offline mobile GIS data collection and editing made easy? Its time to debunk some of the myths around mobile GIS. We've been building offline mobile GIS apps for over 3 years. Our focus has always been the user experience. In this post we will step back from the details and show how data collection and editing in offline mode can be both simple and easy.


Offline Mobile GIS Data Collection and Editing Made Easy


Let's start by listing the core requirements clients want from any offline mobile GIS data collection app:


1) Intuitive and easy to use - increasingly its non-GIS staff who are using GIS data collection apps. So apps need be simple, requiring little or no training.

2) The ability to edit layers from different sources.

3) Configurable

4) Extensible

5) Point data editing is important, but providing line and polygon editing need be included in any mobile GIS data collection app.

6) Collecting and attaching to features multimedia elements such image and/or video is important.

7) Field data upload and storage need be cloud based, so upload to one shared layer. No more working with shapefiles or equivalent.

8) Data privacy is critical. We need to protect editable data. This means authentication or login, and possibly VPN access to the editable layers through a firewall.

9) The mobile app must work across all popular platforms (iOS, Android and Window) and devices; smartphones, phablets and tablets.


Intuitive, Configurable and Extensible Mobile GIS Apps


So what do we mean by that term 'made easy'? Intuitive, configurable and extensible that's what. We could discuss at length the technical nuts and bolts of the app, but really we are talking about ease of use, and having the ability to simply switch data sources and new functionality from an existing mobile app or mobile app framework. More about the latter in due course.


Let's imagine we have two field based teams. Both will use an app built from the same source. One group need access to layers published in your ArcGIS Server instance, the other a web map in your ArcGIS Online account. A simple configuration file will allow pointing a mobile app at either source. There will be a mix of mobile devices used by team members: Apple, Android and Windows smartphones and tablets. A responsive cross platform mobile app will cover all users. One of the teams need custom forms. Enabling the custom form widget will provide this functionality to this group. So maximum flexibility without the need for creating a new mobile app for each new workflow.


Let's add one more twist to the scenarios. You have an existing Web or mobile app written in Javascript, can you integrate your existing app with the functionality and flexibility provided by our solution? Step forward our mobile app framework.


Offline Mobile GIS Application Framework


By framework, we mean a core from which many mobile apps can be produced. So no need to reinvent the wheel. A mobile framework provides maximum flexibility and extensibility. Need different functionality, configurability? Generate a new mobile app by leveraging the framework.


We have been building such a framework. With configurable and extensible at the front of our minds. Our cutting edge mobile GIS framework will change how you provide mobile apps to your field based staff. It will help remove current roadblocks to releasing custom mobile solutions, designed for specific project workflows.


Contact us for more information.