Bring back location tracking in Collector

03-21-2019 05:01 PM
Status: In Product Plan
Occasional Contributor III

The new collector (Aurora) no longer supports location tracking. ESRI has promised a new app with better tracking.  In the mean time we are using Workforce in the background, but it only works when connected.

The new functionality might be super but all my users are asking to see just their own breadcrumbs in Collector, not everyone else's, like they used to be able to do in ArcGIS Mobile for Windows.

In that app the breadcrumbs were visible to the user but were only synced up, never down from the server to the local map.  It actually worked out really nicely for everyone.


I think you're looking for Tracker for ArcGIS. While I personally don't agree with the notion of Tracker being a separate dedicated application (I think its features and logic should have been directly integrated into the runtime apps like Collector), Tracker seems to be the direction Esri is headed for location tracking and I don't see that changing anytime in the near future.


I feel very much the same as you. That this should have been a underlying feature for mobile data collection apps and workforce management; and not restricted to a separate application where a user can turn it on or Off. If you have the issues like me of not knowing where Field Officers are or if they are at (HOME) or out then this is a real issue.

... But. Having just attended the AC19 in London it was implied that you can track location within collector. The presentation made no separation for (Classic) or the NEW collector. so i will now investigate this further. Or if someone from ESRI reads this maybe they could shed some light.



Tracker for ArcGIS requires additional licensing, hardware, and administrator and user overhead.

Running it on ArcGIS Enterprise requires an instance of ArcGIS Data Store with a spatiotemporal big data store, which per Esri requires a dedicated server, in addition to other servers required to run ArcGIS Enterprise.

Tracker for ArcGIS is not available in ArcGIS Online, and its release has been delayed.

Collecting real-time locations of individuals in a publicly-accessible system such as ArcGIS Online will raise privacy and security concerns for some organizations and individuals.

If this function was removed from Collector because of impact to device battery life and this has been improved in Tracker, then surely the improvements can be brought back to the Collector app.

Unlike Survey123 for ArcGIS, the introduction of Tracker for ArcGIS into the mobile app/enterprise ArcGIS ecosystem is a significant step in the wrong direction.

We support the reintroduction of on-device location tracking (breadcrumbs) in Collector for ArcGIS (iOS Aurora/Android beta) that meets the needs of field users instead of being forced to use a poorly-implemented (or perhaps just ill-suited) app that we don't need. Collector should have at least the same functionality as a $200 Garmin recreational GPS Receiver.


I wouldn't agree that it's been poorly implemented. I think Tracker is a neat app, but I just don't agree with the core functionality being removed from the other runtime apps. I think Esri could probably have its cake and eat it too here by keeping some basic location tracking functionality (eg. breadcrumbs) in Collector and for those who need the more advanced location tracking capabilities, that could be where the dedicated Tracker app comes into play. 

I've never looked into implementing it in the Enterprise and didn't realize that it required the Big Data Store, that said I wouldn't see that as a bad thing. I would dare to speculate that Esri's Spatio-Temporal Big Datastore is probably going to end up cannibalizing the Relational Datastore's features and that 5-7 years from now, we'll all be transitioning to it because it's going to give you so much more flexibility. So getting in to it early is not a bad thing in my view. It's also needed for many of Esri's other products such as GeoEvent and GeoAnalytics.

Jeff Shaner and Craig Gillgrass‌, FYI


We're interested in simple functionality that works offline and doesn't introduce new types of services and administrative overhead. Based what we know from an in-depth presentation by Esri there are many aspects of this that we don't believe to be fully developed, and moving this out of Collector and into Tracker, tied to ArcGIS Enterprise, creates new problems for us.

Tracker for ArcGIS is a licensing issue for us, and we don't have a spare server to run a spatiotemporal data store - these are just a couple reasons that it doesn't work for our organization.

I'm sure this will work well for others' environments and applications.



This is a great discussion and thank you very much for all of the thoughtful comments you have added into this thread. I'd like to provide context on where we are and what we have built to date. Please though, if you ever have questions about why we are building what we are building don't hesitate to ask us. Thanks for @mentioning Craig and I John. Our mission is to build effective, intuitive apps that meet your needs and we can't do that without your feedback. 

Ok with that said, why did we build Tracker? Well, there were several reasons. The primary reason was to support organizations that need to know where their staff are and record where they have been (to enhance situational awareness and ultimately for accountability reasons). That extends well beyond the field worker and that is why it is licensed with a Viewer user type and higher. In fact, the target user for our initial launch was not someone using a field data collection app like Collector or Survey123. We are seeing customers that want to track anywhere from 500 to 2000 to 150,000 users and more! We also needed to build a tracking solution that worked offline, worked in the background, and was easy on battery life so that it could support a full 10 - 12 hour day without a charge. As part of this effort, we quickly realized that a traditional hosted feature service was not the right solution. It would struggle to manage the throughput of tracks and would consume too many credits. Tracks will have a much higher storage volume than other GIS features. We are building the proper infrastructure within ArcGIS Online now and felt it was too soon to release. It was a very difficult decision to make but one that we thought was best to do. With ArcGIS Enterprise we already had a robust data store for this that we could use.

This new location tracking capability is setting a foundation for not only the Tracker app to write to but for others as well. It is the first phase in a series of releases. In fact, the Indoors app is already writing to the same service and other apps can as well.

At the same time, Collector is going through an evolution. We are phasing in capabilities/platforms as we go. This is a huge effort and it is taking time to complete. The first phase of location tracking work will be to add support where Tracker is installed. Collector will be able to draw tracks directly within the app, it will honor the settings in the Tracker app and will be able to remotely control the Tracker app. Here we are targeting workflows where it is important to know where a field worker is located at all times and where they have been. Where they use the Collector app to capture data (collect and inspect) but they need to have their location shared even when the app is not running (worker safety being perhaps the primary need but also for accountability purposes as well). 

This is our current development plan and where we have seen the needs around location tracking (both with field workers and without). If there are other workflows where you see a gap, PLEASE let us know. We want to make sure that we address your needs.




There you have it from da man himself, folks. I didn't realize Tracker was licensed at the Viewer level. That's pretty great as that means it costs nothing to use. Jeff Shaner‌ you mentioned a concern about credit burn when using hosted feature services as the storage mechanism for tracks being a primary decision behind using the Big Data Store and that there is an effort underway to build a more efficient solution for ArcGIS Online. Any thoughts you can share about how much credit burn one might see in ArcGIS Online with the new forthcoming solution. I guess I'm asking, approximately how much might it cost to store, say, 10,000 tracks.

[UPDATE 7/16/19: Tracker for ArcGIS is not and cannot be licensed at the Viewer Level. It is licensed with a User Type that includes the Field Apps bundle.]


Thanks for the background and great information!

I wandered a bit in our discussion here - I don't have a problem with Tracker for ArcGIS itself, but with the functionality that appeared to move from Collector to Tracker at Aurora.

There have been many significant improvements in Collector and Esri's mobile applications, and in general they work well.

The planned integration between Collector and Tracker sounds as though it will get us closer to where we want to be with the new app. We're collecting use cases from various users and I'll provide a copy.

As far as the release date for ArcGIS Online, we appreciate your team taking the time to get it working as well as possible prior to making it available in Online.

I have an open Esri Technical Support case #02356469 - Need for location tracking (breadcrumbs) in Collector for ArcGIS where we're requesting a enhancement request or usability bug, as appropriate. That's underway, and I'll either provide the use cases through there or directly to you through other means. Thanks for engaging in the discussion!



Thank you Paul. I really look forward to your feedback and use cases. Please feel free to reach out directly to our alias as well. I would love to understand where you see breadcrumbs inside of Collector in comparison to say GPS streaming of lines and potentially in the context of nested or partial feature collection as well. These are all on our roadmap for Collector and we want to make sure we have the workflows referenced properly. Right now our focus with Collector is to get Android done and out the door!!


Hey John,

We are sorting out the details of this now so what I am about to say is subject to change before we release...

At present, we do not have any plan to charge credits for storage of location tracks. With the ArcGIS Enterprise store, there is a concept of a retention period for track data. You can set it to keep tracks indefinitely or you can set a date and then we will truncate tracks accordingly (say 30 or 60 days). This same concept will apply within ArcGIS Online except right now we are thinking that it would be a fixed time and not indefinite as there are transactional/query and storage costs to maintaining tracks. If you want, you would be able to export the tracks from the data store to archive them yourself. 

With the beta program we are looking for feedback on the business model as well as the technical aspects of the capability.